Scottish Daily Mail
Conditions look right for star of Festival
DAVID BRIDGWATER has punched above his weight throughout his training career and THE CONDITIONAL (Newbury, 3.00) is taken to strike in today’s Ladbrokes Trophy. The Gloucestershire trainer has a serious talent on his hands, judged by the strides his eight-year-old gelding made in some of the most competitive staying handicap chases last season. Quietly backed at big prices to win a Cheltenham handicap last October, The Conditional bounced out of that race a month later to finish an honourable runner-up to De Rasher Counter in last year’s renewal of today’s feature. The selection travelled like the best horse during that race, but narrowly failed to overhaul the winner, with a rare mistake at the final fence halting his momentum and challenge. He went on to prove those performances were no fluke with another solid effort in the Classic Chase at Warwick, where he again travelled powerfully but did not quite last home over the marathon trip in testing conditions. A drop in trip and a return to Cheltenham worked in March, though, as regular jockey Brendan Powell enjoyed an armchair ride aboard his improving partner when running out a snug winner from Kildisart in the Ultima Handicap Chase. Admittedly, there is a chance Bridgwater’s chaser may not be at his sharpest first time out this year. However, this race has been the plan since that smooth victory at the Festival and The Conditional makes plenty of appeal, given his ability to handle big fields and experience of the venue.