Denman Chase to a provide Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner?
The Denman Chase which takes place at Newbury on Saturday sees the highly anticipated return of NATIVE RIVER.
The Colin Tizzard trained gelding has not been seen on a racecourse since coming 3rd in the 2017 Cherltenham Gold Cup.
He does however have previous form at Newbury having won this race last year. In doing so he beat the highly rated Bristol De Mai.
Although this form now has to be taken with a pinch of salt in that his form is shown to taper off after November.
Whilst their were only 3 runners last years he won impressively by 3l from Le Mercurey and a further 6 from the aforementioned Bristol De Mai. The going was soft as is expected this year.
He has also won as a Novice Chaser at Newbury in 2015 and in 2016 won the Hennessy so certainly loves the course.
With only 5 runners declared it will certainly be a big shock if he were not to continue his 100% chase record at Newbury.
Denman Chase Contenders?
If Native River is not going to win the Denman Chase then there are 3 likely contenders to choose from.
These are CLOUDY DREAM, SAPHIR DU RHEU AND FOUNTAINS WINDFALL.
If Cloudy Dream is to pull of a win it be a very emotional moment following the death this week of his trainer Malcolm Jefferson.
Unfortunately this horse has the reputation of just failing to get up and win.
In 7 of his last 8 races he has come 2nd which is either incredibly unlucky or shows an unwillingness to stick his neck out!
There is also the question of whether he gets the distance and for me this is a bigger issue.
Paul Nicholls sends Saphir Du Rheu to try and win his 9th running of this event in its various guises.
He started out his chasing career in fine form winning his first 2 races. Since then he has been somewhat patchy with 2 wins from 11 races.
Like Native River he appears to have been kept fresh for this race. His one fall at a racecourse apart from at the Grand National took place here in November 2016. This was in the Hennessy that Native River won.
Perhaps that is a sign of things to come?
Fountains Windfall is the horse here who has ran regularly this season. He has 2 wins from 4 appearances so far. Although the other 2 ended in falls.
He went off favourite when appearing at Newbury in early December but fell when pressured 3 out. I think this may be a step up in class too much for him as a novice. He is not quite in the same class as Coneygree to win a race of this stature as a novice chaser.