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Willie Mullins prepares Ladbrokes Trophy challenge at Newbury with Ontheropes leading the charge

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Ontheropes is on target to mount a challenge on the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy in which he will try to secure another historic prize for Cheveley Park Stud’s boutique jumping division.

The seven-year-old, who was winless as a novice chaser, returned from a year’s absence to land the J T McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National at Limerick back in October.

Trainer Willie Mullins has taken the same route in the past with Total Recall who followed up victory at Limerick by beating Whisper in the 2017 Ladbrokes Trophy, while 2019 winner Cabaret Queen also ran at Newbury, where she was pulled up.

The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival is fast approaching
The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival is fast approaching

Ontheropes, who has 11st 2lb in the weights, is one of 34 horses left in the 3m2f handicap chase at the latest acceptance stage for the November 27 contest, the highlight of the two-day Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, for which Royale Pagaille is the top weight.

He is one of four co-favourites with the sponsors Ladbrokes for the staying prize in which the Mullins-trained Brahma Bull and Annamix are also still engaged.

Cheveley Park Stud managing director, Chris Richardson, said: “All being well the Ladbrokes Trophy is the plan for Ontheropes. Everything that Willie has said to me is that this is his target.”

The Thompson family’s Newmarket-based Cheveley Park Stud, one of the most successful stud farms in Europe, has enjoyed extraordinary success since developing a small string of jumps horses alongside its Flat team.

In 2021 their horses won three races at the Cheltenham Festival where A Plus Tard also finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Envoi Allen is another of their stars over obstacles, whilst on the Flat homebred Inspiral completed an unbeaten campaign and is now favourite for the 2022 1,000 Guineas and Oaks.

Ontheropes, the winner of a maiden over hurdles, ran only once last season when he stepped up on his previous efforts over fences to finish second to top class stablemate Monkfish at Fairyhouse.

He was off the track for 259 days until his winning return last month.

“I’m told he is in good form and the Ladbrokes Trophy is the opportunity that we are looking at and it would be nice to have him running over here,” Richardson said. “He has a profile that matches quite nicely to the Ladbrokes Trophy and he has had a good summer.”

He added: “It’s been a very special year. To be leading owner at Cheltenham was just an extraordinary thing. It was a great tribute to the late David Thompson.

“Now we are looking forward to another season and the jumping chapter is beginning to get going. It will be as competitive as ever.

“Willie has one or two others in the Ladbrokes Trophy, but certainly on his last performance, Ontheropes deserves to be right up there.”

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