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Lad leads Ladbroke list

The John Hanlon-trained Luska Lad is joint top-weight along with Get Me Out Of Here and Nearby for The Ladbroke at Ascot on Saturday week.

The six-year-old was a multiple scorer in his novice campaign and added to the win tally in a Grade Three at Punchestown in October.

He has since disappointed at Down Royal but is set for the return to handicap company and could be joined by fellow raiders Pires, Son Amix and Lancetto, among others.

Aegean Dawn dominates the betting for the valuable two-mile heat after the weights were revealed. Nicky Henderson's giant is unbeaten in four starts under Rules and has breezed up at Cheltenham and Ascot already this term.

That second easy win saw him raised 21lb to his new mark of 140 and the five-year-old has been allotted 11st 2lb for the Listed two-mile handicap. He is the 5-1 favourite with the sponsors, who have Paul Nicholls' recent Haydock victor Toubab (11st 6lb) next best at 8-1.

The Donald McCain-trained Drill Sergeant finished a distant eight-length second that day and is on course to reoppose off a weight of 10st 7lb. A tough handicapper on the Flat and placed at Group Two level for trainer Mark Johnston, Drill Sergeant will be having just his fifth start over obstacles.

McCain said: "Although Drill Sergeant hasn't had a lot of runs over hurdles, he has an awful lot of experience on the Flat in strongly-run handicaps, so that justifies his entry and it is an option we are looking at.

"Haydock is very sharp now and a strong galloping two miles suits him better - he may even prove to be better over two and a half miles. The last Haydock run was a very solid effort and we are handicapped to be competitive if he is fluent enough over his hurdles for this type of contest.

"Toubab beat us senseless last time but the turnaround in the weights will help. I wouldn't say we're well in but Drill Sergeant had to do a lot of the work that day and it might be that he's a better horse in a big-field contest like this."

Henderson's other contenders include Aintree winner General Miller (11st 7lb) and Oscar Whisky (11st 8lb) while Sanctuaire (11st 8lb), Tito Bustillo (10st 12lb) and Advisor (10st 9lb) could also take their chances for Nicholls. Alan King's three possibles are headed by Mille Chief (11st 7lb) while the progressive Tocca Ferro (11st 3lb) could run for Emma Lavelle.


From Belfast Telegraph