Native River in full flow for Denman Chase return at Newbury

Saturday, Feb 10 2018

Colin Tizzard reports Native River more than ready to return to the fray for the first time in 11 months when he makes his eagerly-awaited seasonal reappearance in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday.

The classy staying chaser has not graced the track since finishing third in last year's Gold Cup after winning this race first.

Tizzard pinpointed the same route as far back as August ahead of another crack at the blue riband of jumps racing.

And the Dorset handler has left no stone unturned with Native River, who has just the two rivals in this extended two-mile-seven-furlong Grade Two.

Tizzard said: "It is pretty well documented he had a bit of ligament trouble after the Gold Cup. We left him this long and he has been ready for a long time. We have schooled him and he has jumped well.

"It is the right race for him so we are looking forward to it. He can then go to the Gold Cup, then Aintree - not the Grand National, but he can go to the Bowl.

"We were a little bit ruled by the ligament trouble but you have got to look after him. It is no good bringing them back in and ruining them.

"The proof will be in the pudding now."

Saphir Du Rheu finished two places behind Native River when fifth to Sizing John in the 2017 Gold Cup and fell when Tizzard's ace lifted the Hennessy Gold Cup in 2016.

The Paul Nicholls-trained grey has been absent since tipping up at the 11th fence in the Grand National last April.

Owner Andy Stewart said: "Saphir will need the run, Paul has made no secret of that and Native River will probably win.

"Our season will not be defined by what happens here, though, and with the Gold Cup wide open, we don't have much to find from last year.

"Hopefully he puts himself in the picture."

Ruth Jefferson feels it is worth giving Cloudy Dream a second chance over a longer trip.

The eight-year-old had run over shorter distances this season before tackling three miles and a furlong at Aintree, where he was beaten seven lengths by Definitly Red in a four-runner affair.

"He's fit and well and we've always felt he could get three miles," said Jefferson, who recently took over the running of the family stables in North Yorkshire on the death of her father, Malcolm.

"This race should tell us a lot about where we're going (at the Cheltenham Festival).

"He's in the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham and he's up against two horses who ran well in the Gold Cup last year."



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