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Could Native River beat Thistlecrack? He did his Gold Cup chances no harm today

Colin Tizzard is mob-handed for next month’s Cheltenham showpiece.

Native River finished three-and-a-quarter lengths clear of Le Mercurey.
Native River finished three-and-a-quarter lengths clear of Le Mercurey.
Image: Julian Herbert

NATIVE RIVER SHOWED that stablemate Thistlecrack shouldn’t expect to have it all his own way in next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Colin Tizzard’s seven-year-old staked his claim for the St Patrick’s Day showpiece by winning the Grade 2 Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday afternoon.

Bookmakers immediately cut him to 4/1 second favourite in the Gold Cup betting behind Thistlecrack, the sensational novice and ante-post favourite also trained by Tizzard.

“His last two races he went a few lengths clear four out and just held on,” Tizzard told ITV after his three-and-a-quarter length win in the hands of Aidan Coleman.

“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.”

Source: Racing UK/YouTube

Later in the afternoon, an impressive Altior showed that he is very much the one to beat in the Arkle Chase as he cantered to a 13-length win in the Betfair Exchange Chase.

And trainer Nicky Henderson says he won’t be tempted to take on Willie Mullins’ Douvan for the bigger prize of the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

“He is a genuine two-miler and he doesn’t need to go any further,” he told ITV.

“If it comes up soft now, we don’t have to panic. We are going to stay in the Arkle for sure.”

Ballyandy, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, was cut from 16/1 to 8/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle after he held on to win the Betfair Hurdle by three-quarters of a length.

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