Horses To Follow » Native River

Native River

Native River ran a big race to finish second behind Minella Rocco in the National Hunt Chase on Tuesday. This was a race that was run at a strong unrelenting pace, and in which it was an advantage to race in rear. Five of the first six horses home were held up, Native River was the only one who raced up with the pace who was involved in the finish.

He could have won the race too had things panned out a little differently. He got into a nice even rhythm for Michael Legg just behind the pace, set first by Vintage Vinnie and then by Johnnie Og. Niggled along in second place at the top of the hill, he jumped the ditch there, the fourth last, a little slowly, and was quickly enveloped by rivals. He had dropped to fifth place when they jumped the third last fence, as Measureofmydreams and Southfield Royale went on, and Minella Rocco and Vieux Lion Rouge joined them. Indeed, he looked booked for sixth place as they rounded the home turn and Noble Endeavor came up on his outside. However, Noble Endeavor fell at the second last fence, and Native River began to respond to Legg’s urgings. He jumped the last back in a share of third place, and he stayed on really strongly up the hill to take second place, a length and a half behind Minella Rocco, and he would have got even closer had he not had to check to come around the second-placed horse Measureofmydreams.

Native River remains a talented staying novice chaser. A good staying novice hurdler last season, he has shaped all season as if three miles on good ground was not a strong enough test for him, even though he beat Un Temps Pour Tout (form that looks even better now than it did then) in a Grade 2 novices’ chase over almost three miles at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting. He shaped in the Feltham Chase and the Towton Chase as if he would be better over further, and that proved to be the race here.

This was a good race. Interestingly, it was run in a faster comparative time than both the Ultima Handicap Chase and the Close Brothers Handicap Chase on the same day. Native River will be of interest now in another staying chase, perhaps ridden a little more patiently. He could be well handicapped on a mark of 149. He is only six and he remains open to further progression.

15th March 2016