Saturday’s racing preview
Native River and Johnson a winning team
The action at Newbury headlines Saturday’s racing, where Coral punters have Grade Two and Grade Three contests to solve. Click here to bet on all the weekend’s horse racing now!
A competitive seven-race card gets started at 1.15pm, but there will be no apologies made as we keep our powder dry until the 2.25pm Grade Two Denman Chase, contested over two-miles seven-furlongs.
We have just three runners contesting, but that takes nothing away from the quality of the race, and Colin Tizzard’s star seven-year-old Native River will take all the beating. Finishing no higher than runner-up in any of his last four starts, he was last seen winning the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on December 27th.
That success followed a winning effort at this track when taking the Grade Three Hennessy Gold Cup Chase the month before. Punters looking to keep faith will find him favourite in the betting ring, but that will come as no surprise. What does go down as a serious positive to his chances is the booking of Richard Johnson, who returns to the saddle.
The pair have struck up an impressive working relationship during his career, with Johnson aboard in each of his last four starts, resulting in three wins and a second.
Altior our ace play
Punters will barely have time to draw breath, as we go back in with the standout race of the day next on the card, the Betfair Chase, due to post at 3.00pm.
This Grade Two spectacle, over two-miles, was won by Kerry Lee’s Top Gamble last year, as was expected by most at the time. The defending trainer sends out previous distance winner Gino Trail here, but a repeat performance isn’t judged to be very likely, according to odds, and he’s outsider of the field.
A better horse to side with, on paper, looks to be Altior for Nicky Henderson, who last won this prize with Sprinter Sacre back in 2012. Now, Altior doesn’t look to be a Sprinter Sacre, not yet anyway, but he is certainly exciting enough and arrives at course having won nine of his 11 starts, and each of his last eight.
The Cheltenham Festival winning partnership of Altior and Nico de Boinville are back working together for the first time since winning last season’s Supreme Novices Hurdle, leaving the likes of Min and Buveur D’air trailing in their wake.
Nico was on the treatment table for three-months with a broken arm and would love to make this a return to winning ways in big name races on big name horses. It would be a dream, and something he surely could only fantasise about when watching the racing from home during his rehabilitation.
Altior opens as odds-on favourite, but has been popular in the ante-post betting and is sure to gain plenty of favour with backers on the day.
1.15 – High Bridge
1.50 – Tobefair
2.25 – Native River
3.00 – Altior
3.35 – Wait For Me
4.10 – Vieux Lille
4.45 – Daphne Du Clos