The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, formerly the Hennessy Festival, is a two-day National Hunt meeting staged annually at Newbury Racecourse in late November or early December. Ladbrokes sponsored the meeting for the first time in 2017 and increased the total prize money on offer to £700,000.
The Ladbrokes Trophy, formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup, is the highlight of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival. Inaugurated, as the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, in 1957, the Ladbrokes Trophy was initially staged at Cheltenham before being transferred to Newbury in 1960. The 60th, and final, Hennessy Gold Cup, run in 2016, brought to an end one of the longest running commercial sponsorships in all of sport.
The Ladbrokes Trophy is a Grade 3 handicap steeplechase, run over about 3 miles 2 furlongs (3 mile 1 furlong and 214 yards) and open to horses aged four years and upwards. During the race participants jump 21 moderately stiff fences. Under the new sponsorship deal, the prize money was increased by £50,000 to £250,000 in 2017.
The Ladbrokes Trophy is considered a key early-season trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the likes of Arkle, Denman and Bobs Worth have all completed the Ladbrokes Trophy – Cheltenham Gold Cup double in the same season. In fact, Arkle did so twice, in 1963/64 and 1964/65, despite shouldering 12st 7lb in the Ladbrokes Trophy on both occasions. Denman, too, carried 11st 12lb to an impressive 11-length victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy in 2007, before routing stable companion Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following March.
All in all, nine horses, including Native River, the winner in 2016, have won the Ladbrokes Trophy and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. In 2014/15, Many Clouds became the first horse to win the Ladbrokes Trophy and the Grand National in the same season.