The countdown to the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival at Newbury continues today with the unveiling of the latest acceptors for the feature £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy, the highly-prestigious three and a quarter mile handicap chase which takes place at on Saturday, December 1, day two of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.
Heading the market at 6/1 with Ladbrokes is Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard, 11st 2lb, including a 4lb penalty), who made a pleasing return to action when defeating Thomas Patrick (Tom Lacey, 10st 9lb, 7/1 with Ladbrokes) by half a length in the Listed Future Stars Intermediate Chase over three miles at Sandown Park on November 11, a race in which Coo Star Sivola (Nick Williams, 10st 10lb, 25/1) finished third and Terrefort (Nicky Henderson, 11st 5lb, 14/1) fourth.
The Tizzard stable, based on the Dorset-Somerset border, is seeking its second Ladbrokes Trophy success following on from the victory of Native River in 2016.
Joe Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father, commented: "Elegant Escape did very well at Sandown on Sunday. He is a horse we hold in high regard and has grown into his frame really well.
"He stays very well and he picked up nicely at Sandown.
"We have been waiting for the rain to come with a lot of our horses and he really appreciated the conditions at Sandown.
"The Ladbrokes Trophy is the aim with him now and hopefully he will improve for the run.
"He is a second-season chaser and has a similar profile to Native River when he won the race in 2016.
"We wanted to get a prep run into him and this was our last chance to run him and he couldn't have gone any better.
"He will improve for this run and Newbury does not inconvenience him as he has won at the track.
"The Ladbrokes Trophy has been the plan for a while."
Tom Lacey, who is based in Herefordshire, is eager to have another crack at Elegant Escape and is also preparing Thomas Patrick for the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Lacey said: "Thomas Patrick ran a great race at Sandown on Sunday. He jumped brilliantly and Richard Johnson was really happy with him.
"My horses always improve for their first run as they are never fully wound up. He can only improve from that and we have a solid foundation from which to now build our season up.
"The Ladbrokes Trophy is a real possibility for him now. I saw the weather forecasts suggest there is no rain for a couple of weeks which would not be ideal. That ground was fine for us on Sunday and if it came up good at Newbury, we would probably give the race a swerve, so we will just see how the ground is.
"He is a very accurate jumper and he is quick over his fences which would stand him in good stead in a race like the Ladbrokes Trophy."
Following today's scratchings' deadline for the Ladbrokes Trophy, the weights are still headed by Elegant Escape's stable companion Thistlecrack (11st 12lb, 16/1).
The Ladbrokes Trophy was captured by an Irish-trained horse, Total Recall, for the first time in 37 years in 2017 and there are 11 remaining Irish contenders.
Total Recall (Willie Mullins, 11st 3lb, 16/1) is one of eight remaining entries for Ireland's champion trainer Willie Mullins along with Al Boum Photo (11st 6lb, 12/1), Kemboy (11st 4lb, 16/1), Rathvinden (11st 1lb, 25/1), Invitation Only (10st 13lb, 25/1), Pairofbrowneyes (10st 8lb, 16/1), Up For Review (10st 7lb, 14/1) and Isleofhopendreams (10st 5lb, 14/1).
The next acceptances for the Ladbrokes Trophy are at the five-day confirmation stage on Monday, November 26.