Betfair Denman Chase
Grade 2 Handicap, Newbury 14:25
£50,000 added,
5yo plus,
2m 7f 86y, Class 1   
Saturday 11th February 2017

1 Native River 11/10
2 Le Mercurey 14/1
3 Bristol De Mai 10/11F
3 ran Distances: 3¼l, 6l
TIME 6m 5.00s (slow by 25.00s)

Aidan Coleman steps in for the winning mount on Native River

Native River
© Racehorse Photos
Native River

With Richard Johnson crying off with the effects of 'flu, trainer Colin Tizzard was forced into a late jockey change aboard the 11/10 chance.

Native River was not always perfect at his fences, but raced with his usual enthusiasm against rivals Le Mercurey and Bristol De Mai, the latter sent off favourite to build upon his previous success in the Peter Marsh Chase.

But despite the three runners turning for home with only a couple of lengths between them, it was Native River who kept finding for Coleman's urgings. Le Mercurey looked his biggest danger on touching down over the final fence, but the winner picked up again and edged on to score by three and a quarter lengths.

Bookmakers Sky Bet responded to the performance by trimming Native River's odds in their non-runner no-bet market on the Gold Cup from 9/2 to 4/1.

Their Racing PR Manager Michael Shinners said: "Bristol De Mai disappointed but you can't take anything away from Native River who did what he does best.

"He jumps and gallops and stays and looks tailor made for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup and he's now 4/1 second favourite behind stablemate Thistlecrack at 7/4 and we're non-runner no bet on all the races at the Cheltenham Festival."

Coleman said: "I talked to Dickie and he told me what his plan was going to be and what I needed to do and that made things easy.

"Things can get a bit tactical in a three-runner race like that but it always helps when you're on the best horse and he did everything I asked him to do."

Tizzard added: "I only think he asked him coming down to the second last. He just nursed him along. It showed he was a bit classier.

"In his last two races he went a few lengths clear four out and just held on. We wanted to ride him a little differently and have that finishing spurt at the end and it's worked brilliantly. He's gone away at the line. Aidan's not a bad sub!"

Of his three most obvious Gold Cup contenders - Native River, Thistlecrack and Cue Card - Tizzard said: "They are all lovely horses. I'm just so proud to have them in our yard.

"A three-horse race today, I thought we might get outmanoeuvred, but no, he's got a bit more class and is just a thorough stayer and he's got a bit of pace as well."

Tizzard went on: "It's just nice that Richard Johnson and Aidan Coleman were talking beforehand how to ride him.

"Aidan Coleman is a classy jockey. He has not had these colours on a for a few years since he decked Hey Big Spender in the Hennessy.

"I walked out with Dickie and he said he would love to ride him but just felt he couldn't do the horse justice. He had this flu and he felt terrible.

"It was a brilliant performance. He is not just an out and out stayer, he has got a bit of pace about him.

"We've ridden him to outstay people and we don't have to go on over five out. It is lovely to see he has got that other gear now.

"When it is cat and mouse, you think 'is that gear there at the end of the race' and there it is."

Paul Nicholls said of runner-up Le Mercurey: "When he ran up against Many Clouds, Sean Bowen said if we took him on early we would have got a bit closer. That form was a good run.

"He came into the race with 1lb difference and to get as close to the horse I think will win the Gold Cup is a good run.

"He is an improving young horse. He is better on a flat track and he will be aimed at the Betfred Bowl. Sam Twiston-Davies said he will be a National horse one day.

"He is better off in small fields. We will try to keep him fresh and well for Aintree and let the others get stuck in at Cheltenham."

Bristol De Mai was sent off the 10/11 favourite but finished last of three runners, a performance which Nigel Twiston-Davies was at a loss to explain.

He said: "He was never at the races. We've got five weeks to get him ready for the Gold Cup and, all being well, that will be long enough to get him back shining.

"He didn't jump and travel like normal . Something might come out of it but at the moment I'm baffled."

Betfair Denman Chase
£50,000 added, 5yo plus, 2m 7f 86y, Class 1
3 ran
Going: Soft

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Native River (IRE) 11/10 Aidan Coleman
11-6
C L Tizzard 7
2nd Le Mercurey (FR) 14/1 Sam Twiston-Davies
11-5
P F Nicholls 7
3rd 6 Bristol De Mai (FR) 10/11f D A Jacob
11-6
N A Twiston-Davies 6

Free Racing Tips

Betfair Denman Chase – Roll of Honour

YEAR WINNER TRAINER JOCKEY AGE/WEIGHT SP RAN

2016 HOUBLON DES OBEAUX Venetia Williams Aidan Coleman 09-11-00 3/1 7
2015 CONEYGREE Mark Bradstock Richard Johnson 08-11-05 15/8F 6
2014 HARRY TOPPER Kim Bailey Jason Maguire 07-11-10 7/2 5
2013 SILVINIACO CONTI Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh 07-11-10 8/11F 8
2012 LONG RUN Nicky Henderson Mr Sam Waley-Cohen 07-11-10 4/7F 5
2011 NOLAND Paul Nicholls A P McCoy 10-11-00 13/2 5
2010 TRICKY TRICKSTER Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh 07-11-03 8/1 6
*2009 MADISON DU BERLAIS David Pipe Tom Scudamore 08-11-06 12/1 7
2008 DENMAN Paul Nicholls Sam Thomas 08-11-10 1/4F 4
2007 KAUTO STAR Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh 07-11-00 2/9F 6
2006 Abandoned – Frost
2005 FARMER JACK Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson 09-11-06 12/1 8
2004 SHOOTING LIGHT Martin Pipe Richard Johnson 11-11-00 33/1 8
2003 VALLEY HENRY Paul Nicholls Barry Geraghty 08-11-06 4/1 6
2002 BACCHANAL Nicky Henderson Mick Fitzgerald 08-11-10 5/4F 7
2001 SHOTGUN WILLY Paul Nicholls Joe Tizzard 07-11-10 4/1 5
2000 SEE MORE BUSINESS Paul Nicholls Mick Fitzgerald 10-11-10 1/3F 6

*Run at Kempton Park when Newbury’s card was abandoned because of snow