Anthony Honeyball hoping Ms Parfois can be sweet as sugar in Ladbrokes Trophy
THE weather has been good to Anthony Honeyball.
Every drop of rain that’s fallen on Newbury’s track this week will help his Ladbrokes Trophy hope Ms Parfois.
She thrived on soft ground last season, landing a hat-trick of wins before finishing runner-up at both Cheltenham and Aintree.
But it’s not just the rain that’s given Honeyball his best chance of landing Newbury’s greatest chase.
Storms battering Ireland have grounded the biggest of thorns in the Dorset trainer’s side – Willie Mullins.
The Irish Champion trainer was hoping to run recent Clonmel Oil Chase winner Kemboy in the £250,000 thriller but choppy seas stopped his intended ferry from making the crossing.
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Mullins’ Rathvinden edged out Ms Parfois by half a length in the National Hunt Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival.
Little more than 24 hours later Honeyball’s Acey Milan was fourth in the Champion Bumper behind a trio of Mullins horses.
Honeyball groaned: “If you take Willie Mullins out the equation we would have had three Cheltenham Festival winners.
“We’ve had two seconds behind Willie Mullins horses and we had a fourth in the Champion Bumper with three Willie Mullins horses in front of us.
“Halfway up the run-in it looked like Ms Parfois was going to find enough. It was so frustrating – I was spitting.”
The trainer’s mood was soothed by Ms Parfois’ next start. She ran another blinder to be runner-up behind Terrefort in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree when today’s rivals Elegant Escape and Black Corton were both behind.
The handicapper might just have made a mistake by failing to give her more weight for those efforts and Honeyball believes the Ladbrokes Trophy is made for her.
He added: “She’s in great form.
“Ideally I would have liked to get a run into her before but, once we knew we couldn’t, we always worked her with that in mind. She’s been away three times.
“It’s a fantastic race to be involved in – we’re here to win.
“I’ve watched this race for years. I know it’s a handicap but it’s the nearest thing to the Gold Cup in some ways. Gold Cup horses win it.
“It suits those second-season chasers with a little bit of upside to them. Win, lose or draw this is the right race to have a go at – she has the right credentials.”
Ms Parfois is owned by Dorset-based book distributor Martyn Chapman. Where Ms Parfois is concerned it was love at first sight.
Chapman explained: “I’ve been in syndicates and partnerships but Ms Parfois is the first horse I’ve owned completely.
“I liked her so much I didn’t want to share her – I was greedy. Within a month she’d won a bumper.
“To own a horse of her quality is a dream come true.
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“I’ve followed racing since I was a youngster – I go back to the days of when Arkle and Mill House were winning this race.
“I was here to see Denman win both times so to come to this day with a horse with a chance of winning is just incredible.”
If one of jump racing’s greatest prizes wasn’t enough Chapman has some more Grand plans.
He added: “The Grand National would be ideal race for her if you could guarantee soft ground.
“No mare has won the National in my lifetime. The last one was Nickel Coin six months before I was born in 1951. That would be a dream.”
If Ms Parfois underlines those Aintree ambitions with victory in today’s Ladbrokes Trophy, plenty of punters will have Honey to thank for the money.