5/1 Native River goes for Gold on ‘full tank’

Updated: 28/02/2024

Colin Tizzard has no qualms about missing this weekend’s rescheduled Denman Chase at Ascot with Native River.

The Dorset handler has confirmed his intention is to go straight to Cheltenham next month, where Native River is a 5/1 chance with Betfred to successfully defend his Gold Cup crown.

Native River is a perfect four-from-four over fences at Newbury and was declared for the Denman Chase there last Saturday. The race was lost due to the equine influenza outbreak and Tizzard has opted against taking in the re-routed Grade Two at Ascot.

He’ll miss another clash with the Paul Nicholls-trained King George VI Chase winner Clan Des Obeaux, behind which Native River was third on Boxing Day.

Tizzard insists it was a decision that didn’t require too much thought given that Ascot is a track more like Kempton and, therefore, deemed less likely to play to Native River’s strengths.

“It was a big decision to miss Ascot but it probably took all of two minutes to make. Ascot is very similar to Kempton in that it is right-handed and they’re on the turn much of the time,” he said.

“Native River looked awkward in the King George and we don’t need to run him again before Cheltenham.”

The decision means Native River will return to the Cotswolds without a win since his gallant display of front-running last March saw him win the Gold Cup, but that isn’t a negative for his trainer.

“Our aim all season has been the Gold Cup and we believe his best chance of winning it again is by not going to Ascot on Saturday,” he added.

“Native River is fit and well. We’ll take him for a couple of days away over the next week or so and turn up at Cheltenham with a full tank of petrol.”

With Native River out of the picture, Clan Des Obeaux is 4/9 to win the Denman Chase at Ascot while the Ditcheat inmate is trading at 8/1 with Betfred to win next month’s Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Odds subject to change.

This post first appeared here

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