RACING: Trainer Brian Ellison is confident the heavily-supported Totalize will make his presence felt in today’s feature Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot.
With a prize fund of £150,000, it is no surprise the two-mile contest is one of the most fiercely competitive handicap hurdles of the season, with 21 runners to face the starter.
Totalize has won twice from four starts over timber and was fifth in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on his latest outing over jumps.
He has since made three appearances on the Flat, with a win at Pontefract followed by a good run in defeat in the Movember Handicap at Leopardstown in November.
Market support has seen the four-year-old backed in from as big as 25-1 to single-figure odds.
Malton-based Ellison said: “He’s in good form. It’s competitive and the more rain the better for him. I’m very happy with him. If he’s good enough, he’ll win. If not, I’m sure he’ll run well anyway. He couldn’t be better.
“The owners haven’t backed him, but someone has jumped on the bandwagon somewhere along the line.”
David Pipe launches a formidable assault on the valuable prize, with Greatwood Hurdle winner Dell’ Arca one of six runners for the Pond House handler.
The mount of Tom Scudamore who rides Dynaste in Thursday’s King George Chase at Kempton, Pipe said: “Dell’ Arca is in good order. He did it nicely at Cheltenham. I think this is a tougher race with more unexposed horses in there, but he deserves to take his chance.
“I think the ground will be okay for him. He might be a better horse on better ground, but we’ll see how he goes.
“Swing Bowler goes well fresh and is in good order. If you go back to her third in the Betfair Hurdle last season that gives her a chance.
“The softer the ground the better for Shotavodka. Obviously, Dell’ Arca and Swing Bowler look the best of our chances.”