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Dell Arca leads Pipe sextet in Saturday’s Ladbroke Hurdle

The Ladbroke is one of the most competitive handicap hurdles of the season and a field of 21 will go to post on Saturday. Paul Nicholls has withdrawn Greatwood runner-up Sametegal and will be represented by top weight Ptit Zig and Irish Saint.

Ptit Zig owes his position at the top of the handicap to a Grade 1 victory in France last month but Nicholls has warned punters not to overlook Irish Saint. He was regarded as one of the better novices in the yard last season and could be good each-way value.

Dell Arca has been raised 8lbs for his victory in the Greatwood Hurdle and will be ridden by Tom Scudamore. That was his first race in this country and he certainly looks the pick of David Pipe’s six-strong entry.

Swing Bowler may be the best of the others if she can be produced in the same kind of form that saw her finish third in the Betfair Hurdle behind My Tent Or Yours. Riding plans are yet to be finalised for his other runners.

Gordon Elliott won this valuable prize last season with Cause Of Causes and is optimistic of a bold showing from Flaxen Flare. The gelding won the Fred Winter Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and shaped well when fourth in the Greatwood.

He now enjoys a healthy pull in the weights with the winner and will be ridden by Richard Johnson. The only other Irish challenger is City Slicker, the mount of Tony McCoy.

The JP McManus owned gelding is seeking a hat-trick but this represents a steep rise in class. Nicky Henderson is doubly represented with Rolling Star and Chatterbox. Barry Geraghty has elected to ride Haydock winner Rolling Star with David Bass aboard Chatterbox.

The best backed horse in the ante-post market is Brian Ellison’s Totalize who has contracted from 25-1 to as short as 8-1 in places. The son of Authorized has been kept fit on the level through the summer including a victory at Pontefract.