The Ladbrokes Winter Carnival is the leading National Hunt meeting of the season held at Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire in South East England. The meeting takes place on a Friday and Saturday in late November or early December and, for years, was known as the Hennessy Meeting, until the family synonymous with cognac ended its sponsorship in 2016.
The highlight of the first day is the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle, a Grade 2 contest run over 3 miles and 52 yards on the galloping hurdle course at Newbury and open to horses aged four years and upwards. The Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle was inaugurated in 1990 and, nowadays, is a recognised trial for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. In recent years, the race has been won by Baracouda (twice), Inglis Drever (three times), Big Buck’s (four times) and Thistlecrack.
The highlight of the second day, the Ladbrokes Trophy, formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup, is Grade 3 handicap steeplechase run over 3 miles 2½ furlongs and open to horses aged four years and upwards. The race was inaugurated at Cheltenham, in 1957, before being transferred to Newbury three years later and, prior to 2016, its sponsorship had been passed down through eight generations of the Hennessy family.
Despite being a handicap, the Ladbrokes Trophy is a recognised trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and its roll of honour includes Arkle, who carried 12st 7lb to victory in both 1964 and 1965, Burrough Hill Lad, who carried 12st 0lb in 1984 and Denman, who carried 11st 12lb in both 2007 and 2009. In 2014/15, Many Clouds became the first horse to complete the Hennessy Gold Cup – Grand National double in the same season.