Betfair Denman Chase
|Grade 2 Handicap, Newbury 14:25
2m 7f 86y, Class 1
|Saturday 10th February 2018
1 Native River 8/11F
Cloudy Dream 11/4
Saphir Du Rheu 100/30
3 ran Distances: 12l, 24l
Time: 6m 11.70s (slow by 31.70s)
Native River wins for the second year in succession
Native River (Colin Tizzard/Richard Johnson) became the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the £50,000 G2 Betfair Denman Chase, setting himself up for another crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race in which he finished third in 2017.
The eight-year-old made all the running, jumping well throughout. He pulled right away from the second last to score by 12 lengths from Cloudy Dream (Ruth Jefferson/Brian Hughes) with Saphir Du Rheu (Paul Nicholls/Sam Twiston-Davies) another 24 lengths back in third.
Colin Tizzard said: "It's an absolute relief. We have all seen what he can do last year and the two greys were going very well on the cross-fence. When he starts to lengthen his stride, he is so fluent and fast - he is just a good horse. He came away and you couldn't have asked for any more.
"He has that lobbing stride. He honestly wouldn't beat anything on our gallops - we worked him Thursday and he went down by three or four lengths over four and a half furlongs - but that's just him.
"That was a lovely prep for the Gold Cup. As long as he is alright over the next 10 days, the dream is still alive. We couldn't miss this race if we wanted to go for the Gold Cup and it has worked out fine."
"That was just what we wanted for his first run back. My biggest worry was that the meeting would be frosted off and we would run out of options before Cheltenham.
"He has hardly blown when he came back in. He is an exceptional horse. We had to wait for his ligament to heal. It wasn't a bad injury but we just had to wait and that is why he wasn't out before Christmas.
"We will now go straight to Cheltenham with him. We will go to Cheltenham fresh this year whereas some of the other contenders have had hard races already. The stable wasn't in great form going into Cheltenham last year - I think we had gone 52 runners without a winner.
"Native River had won the Hennessy Gold Cup, Welsh National and this race before Cheltenham last season, so had had a long campaign. Whether it was that or the stable form that beat us at Cheltenham, I don't know. We were beaten by two very horses at Cheltenham."
Richard Johnson added: "It's a funny race when you have three runners like that and Native River is coming back from the best part of a year without a run. They were very happy with him at home but nobody wanted to give him a really hard race today.
"He is almost better when you are aggressive on him but he enjoyed his jumping today and when I really did ask him over the last three or four fences, he answered every call and did it with enthusiasm.
"I think that he is back in great form and, if he can run the same race as he did in the Gold Cup last year, it has to give him every chance again this year. It looks a very open race - it's still a very toughrace like it is every year - but he can't be too far away if he can reproduce that run.
"He has had nice time today. He has that little bit of class and that's what makes him into a G1 horse. He has picked up well from the ditch home and it was almost the perfect comeback run. He hasn't had a really hard race but has had to also get stuck in.
"I was chatting to the Tizzards just after the summer and it was a very small problem that he had but they decided that he wasn't really a King George horse. They planned to come here and go to the Gold Cup because that is the race that everybody wants to win."
Trainer Ruth Jefferson said of the runner-up Cloudy Dream: "Cloudy Dream jumped really well, he's just hasn't stayed over three miles on this ground.
"We'll now go for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. It's not an easy race but that's where we'll head.
"He's run a nice race today. Today they've gone an honest gallop from start to finish. He has jumped and travelled and just done everything right - he just hasn't quite seen the trip out to suggest a Gold Cup would suit him, so we'll go for the Ryanair this time.
"Aintree and the Betway Bowl is something to potentially look at. Aintree is an easier and sharper track and the three miles there won't be as much as a problem for him."
Betfair Denman Chase
£50,000 added, 5yo plus, 2m 7f 86y, Class 1
||Native River (IRE) 8/11f
|C L Tizzard
||Cloudy Dream (IRE) 11/4
||Saphir Du Rheu (FR) 10/3
|P F Nicholls
Betfair Denman Chase – Roll of Honour
YEAR WINNER TRAINER JOCKEY AGE/WEIGHT SP RAN
2017 NATIVE RIVER Colin Tizzard Aidan Coleman 07-11-06 11/10 3
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