Timeform pick out three Cheltenham Festival contenders to follow on Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury.
"...talk that his best days may be behind him was allayed to a large extent when he made a winning return to action in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree..."
Timeform on Native River
A winner of his sole outing in Irish points, Chantry House has confirmed the excellent impression he created that day in two starts under Rules, with the form of both races proving notably strong.
His bumper win at Warwick came at the expense of Edwardstone, who has since established himself as a useful hurdler, while Chantry House could hardly have made a better start to his own hurdling career at Cheltenham in December, with the novice he won in ready fashion that day having thrown up plenty of winners in the intervening period. The runner-up, Stolen Silver, beat Edwardstone when winning the Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle at Haydock last time, while the fourth Pileon is unbeaten in two subsequent starts.
Chantry House has the option of both the Supreme and the Ballymore at next month's Cheltenham Festival, though the fact he is sticking to two miles at Newbury suggests connections may be leaning towards the shorter race. In any case, he is a most exciting prospect and remains open to any amount of improvement, while the extra experience he gains on Saturday should stand him in good stead as he heads to the Festival.
Dynamite Dollars - Win Bigger On the Betfair Exchange Chase, 14:25 Newbury
All eyes will be on Altior as he attempts to get his season back on track in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury, but Saturday will also be a big day for the Paul Nicholls-trained Dynamite Dollars, who is set to reappear in the same race after more than 12 months off the track.
A fairly useful hurdler, Dynamite Dollars quickly took his form to another level in five starts as a novice chaser last season, with his wins including the Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown, the Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at Kempton and the Lightning Novices' Chase at Doncaster. Those successes meant that he featured prominently in the betting for the Arkle at Cheltenham, but, in the event, his season was brought to a premature end after he suffered a minor setback the month before the meeting.
Nicholls will be hoping to enjoy a spring campaign with the seven-year-old this term, though he concedes his charge is likely to need the run on Saturday. Given that he already has 19 lb to find with Altior on weight-adjusted ratings, he clearly faces a difficult task at Newbury, but an encouraging effort in defeat could make current odds of 40/1 for the Ryanair Chase - possibly a more likely target than the Champion Chase according to his trainer - look very generous.
Native River - Betfair Denman Chase, 15:00 Newbury
Few staying chasers in training can boast a CV like that of Native River, who seems to have been around forever but is still only a 10-year-old. His impressive haul includes back-to-back renewals of this race in 2017 and 2018, the second of which put him spot on for the crowing moment of his glorious career, a memorable success in that season's Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Admittedly, Colin Tizzard's charge failed to scale the same heights in three starts last season, notably finishing a well-held fourth in the defence of his Cheltenham crown, but talk that his best days may be behind him was allayed to a large extent when he made a winning return to action in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in December. The relentless gallop he set that day quickly proved too much for his other two rivals after Might Bite's early departure, with the application of first-time blinkers (replacing his usual cheekpieces) appearing to put a spring back in his step.
That form sets the standard by some margin as he bids for his third Denman Chase on Saturday, which represents a good opportunity for not only his young jockey, Jonjo O'Neill Jr, but also for Native River himself as he attempts to establish himself as a leading Gold Cup contender once again. The 2018 hero lacks the potential of some amongst this year's entries, but he is currently third in the pecking order on Timeform ratings following a much smoother preparation than 12 months ago.
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