IRELAND’S champion trainer Willie Mullins warned there could be more to come from Cabaret Queen at Newbury on Saturday when she will bid to secure a second Ladbrokes Trophy victory in three years for the stable.

“When fillies start to improve they usually keep improving,” he said of the mare, who captured the Ladbrokes Munster National by 13 lengths as he confirmed she was on course to take her place alongside Yorkhill in the £250,000 handicap chase.

The Mullins-trained pair is among 26 five-day acceptors for the historic prize, the feature race of the two-day Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.

Elegant Escape, last year’s runner-up, remains at the top of the weights on 11st 12lb and is one of four who could represent two-time winner Colin Tizzard, alongside Robinsfirth, Mister Malarky and West Approach.

Nicky Henderson also has a four-strong contingent in Beware The Bear, Brave Eagle, Ok Corral and On The Blind Side.

Talkischeap, Kildisart, Mister Whitaker, Champagne Classic, Spiritofthegames, Discorama and The World’s End were among the withdrawals.

Ok Corral is 6-1 favourite with Ladbrokes with Cabaret Queen 7-1 and Mister Malarky 10-1.

Cabaret Queen joined Mullins in the summer after she was bought for £13,000 to race for Syndicates Racing and has taken a similar path to Total Recall, who took the 2017 Ladbrokes Trophy after winning the Munster National.

She will compete off a 16lb higher handicap mark with a weight of 10st 12lb as she attempts to become the first mare since Kerstin in 1959 to win the race.

Mullins said: “Cabaret Queen got a huge penalty for winning the Munster National, however she is still in with a light enough weight. She gallops, jumps and stays so we are going there with a good bit of hope.

“She appeared to really like Irish style fences, though whether they were any different from what she’d been jumping I don’t know. She was spectacular and gained a huge amount of ground in the air and seemed to do it effortlessly. It was probably a combination of the extra trip and our style of fences.”

Mullins, who confirmed stable jockey Paul Townend was likely to ride Cabaret Queen, admitted he was taken aback by the manner of her win at Limerick.

“It totally surprised me,” he said. “We had just won the Irish Cesarewitch at the time so I rushed off the presentation stand up to the big screen to watch the race. I had forgotten her colours and I was trying to find her. I only picked up the race with a mile to run and I could see something going effortlessly in front, not realising it was our own filly.

“When the commentary came through it was as big a surprise to me as it was to anyone else that she was doing it so effortlessly in front.

“I am hoping there is scope for a bit more improvement. It’s a big prize and getting into it with a weight like that you have to hope there is. When fillies start to improve they usually keep improving.”

Yorkhill captured the JLT Novices’ Chase in 2017, but had not won for over two years until he struck at Galway in August. He takes his chance having dropped 12lb in the handicap since his peak.

Mullins said: “He seems to go well left-handed. I know he won in Galway right-handed, but at least that has given him a bit of confidence. He has come down about 10lb or maybe more from his top rating.

“I think left-handed should be a big advantage to him. I think he is in better form and that drop in the weights will be a help.

“His pedigree suggests the three mile two trip will be right. I’ve always thought of him as a three miles plus horse, maybe I’m wrong, but this race was in the calendar and when a horse comes down the handicap you have to take a chance at a big prize.

“There is no point trying to win a five grand race with that advantage. We will come over there and hope he is on his best behaviour and that the trip will help him.”

The J P McManus-owned Ok Corral remains the best backed horse in the race. Nicola McGeady, Head of PR for Ladbrokes, said: “With the market leaders standing their ground, the Ladbrokes Trophy remains ultra-competitive. Ok Corral is expected to be the worst result on the day, along with On The Blind Side who has been backed into 10-1 from 20-1.”

The going at Newbury was good to soft on Monday. Clerk of the course Keith Ottesen said: “We have had 2mm of rain this morning and we have some light drizzly rain coming through. We have had 11mm of rain in total from Thursday through to Saturday last week.

“The forecast for today is for 2mm of light drizzly rain, for similar tomorrow and then there is a band of potentially heavier showers from Tuesday evening and throughout Wednesday. That should get us to soft ground by the middle of the week.

“It is due to be largely dry Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There could be rain later on Saturday but it is still too early to tell.

“We have started the week with very mild temperatures of about 10-11C but it is likely to be colder by the end of the week.”