It was a fine sight to see public favourites Altior and Native River justify short prices and book their Cheltenham tickets with great displays at Newbury on Saturday. Both registered characteristic performances with Altior showing his usual turn of foot to settle the issue and Native River taking his rivals apart with bold jumping from the front.
The feature handicap the Betfair Hurdle produced a finish of tight margins but the winner Pic D’orhy might yet be very special given his lack of exposure on these shores. He will presumably head for a Cheltenham Festival handicap. He might be a little underestimated given the bunch finish here, but this could be the start of an exciting UK career.
Several other performances of note came from Chantry House, Ocean Wind & One For The Team. Chantry House has had me excited since he won his bumper at Warwick last spring, easily accounting for the smart Edwardstone. It seems he’s heading up in trip now which surprises me – it’s hard to see him beating Envoi Allen.
Ocean Wind was impressive but will surely also have his work cut out against Appreciate It in the bumper. One For The Team richly deserved a win for his efforts this season and with his mark elevated to 142 he now has the option of the Pertemps Final as well as the Albert Bartlett. He is hard to fancy as a potential winner but deserves his shot.
At Warwick Rouge Vif booked his Arkle ticket with a polished display of jumping. He has to find improvement to win but is peaking at just the right time and could easily run into a place. Indefatigable posted an impressive win in the mares’ contest, she makes her Cheltenham conqueror Dame De Compagnie look very well treated now, but her Cheltenham target is unknown.
Horatio Star (C.Gordon) – Went all over my radar after a couple of promising but low-key efforts in novice hurdles. Unfancied in the market for his handicap debut at Kempton on Friday he wasn’t really asked to challenge and made up pleasing late ground towards the death. I think he can pick up a couple of bad handicap hurdles soon.
One For Dunstan (R.Walford) – Snuck a place at Kempton on handicap debut Friday, keeping on into a well beaten 4th late on. He basically looks a big, slow type, but there is both ability and application there and in could see him winning a few low grade novice handicap chases going forward, maybe sneaking a 3m handicap hurdle in due course.
Jaytee (I.Williams) – Qualified for handicaps with a solid 6th at Warwick on Saturday and has been trying his best so gets a fair mark of 107 to start off. Ian Williams has some enticingly handicapped horses to exploit over hurdles this spring and this horse looks another winner in waiting.