Horses To Follow » Native River

Native River

Native River put up a nice performance to finish third in the two-mile-three-furlong novices’ chase at Chepstow on Saturday, a race that has been won in the past by Fingal Bay and Balder Succes and Southfield Theatre in the past, and in which Cue Card beat Micheal Flips and Silviniaco Conti in 2011. It is a race that can be a really good pointer to the future.   Weak enough in the market beforehand, Native Ruler’s jumping on this, his chasing bow, was really good. He got in a little tight to the last fence in the back straight as the pace started to increase, but he was safe, and he didn’t lose much ground. He did have to be niggled along by Brendan Powell to keep tabs on the increasing pace as they rounded the home turn, and he did get left behind a little by Cocktails At Dawn and As De Mee over the fourth last and third last, but he stayed on well over the final two fences and, despite a bad mistake at the final fence, stayed on all the way to the line to take third place from Blaklion, just three parts of a length behind runner-up As De Mee.

This was a high-quality novices’ chase for this stage of the season. Blaklion and As De Mee are both rated in the mid-140s over hurdles, while Cocktails At Dawn was already rated 145 over fences going into this race. Native Ruler is himself rated 145 over hurdles, and there is every chance that he will be able to go beyond that rating over fences now as he gains in experience and steps up in trip.

Colin Tizzard’s horse is only five, and he raced just six times over hurdles last season. He has lots of scope to progress over fences. He was a staying novice hurdler last season, despite the fact that he won over two miles at Exerter in February. He won over two miles and six furlong twice, and he was travelling well in a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle over two and a half miles at Cheltenham’s January meeting when he came down at the second last flight. A bad mistake in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle ended his chance in that race, but the fact that that three-mile race was his Cheltenham Festival target tells you that his trainer thinks that he is a stayer too.

Consequently, he should progress when he steps up in trip over fences. He certainly shaped here as if he would appreciate a greater test of stamina, he got out-paced mid-race before staying on. He should be able to win a beginners’ chase over two and a half miles, but he will be interesting in some of the good staying novice chases later in the season.

10th October 2015