Nicky Henderson's Altior on the way to victory
Final Hennessy Gold Cup winner Native River warmed up for a tilt at next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup with a commanding victory on his return to Newbury to win the Betfair Denman Chase.
The 11/10 shot was ridden home by Aidan Coleman for trainer Colin Tizzard to leave the field trailing by more than three lengths as the Welsh Grand National winner looked in good shape for the festival challenge.
Native River led throughout but had to stave off a late challenge from Paul Nicholls’ Le Mercurey and odds-on favourite Bristol De Mai to reward the jockey, a late replacement for flu victim Richard Johnson.
There was also success for Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson when his Altior won the Betfair Exchange Chase asodds-on favourite under Nico de Boinville to establish himself as clear favourite for Cheltenham’s Racing Post Arkle Trophy.
The £155,000 Betfair Hurdle saw trainer Nigel and jockey Sam Twiston-Davies steer Ballyandy to victory over Paul Nicholls’ Movewiththetimes, ridden by Barry Geraghty, with three-quarters of a length separating the two.