Native River to lead Tizzard assault on Denman Chase
Welsh National hero Native River could return to Newbury, the scene of his Hennessy Gold Cup triumph, in the Denman Chase on Saturday.
Colin Tizzard's progressive seven-year-old, who followed up in the Chepstow showpiece at Christmas, is among a select list of five entries for the Grade Two contest after it was re-opened.
Native River is currently one of several fancied runners from the Tizzard stable for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He might be taken on by Bristol De Mai, which staked a big claim for the blue riband event with a convincing success in last month's Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock.
Paul Nicholls believes the small field will play to the strengths of Le Mercurey, which beat Bristol De Mai at Ayr last April but has failed to strike in three starts this term. "Le Mercurey will run in the Denman Chase. He is always better off in a small field on a flat track. He ran very well at Aintree just before Christmas when he was beaten by Many Clouds," said the Ditcheat trainer.
Jonjo O'Neill's More Of That and O Maonlai from Tom George's yard complete the quintet.
Meanwhile, Bob Baffert's pegasus World Cup winner Arrogate is one of 168 nominations for the Dubai World Cup at Meydan on March 25.
The legendary American handler has won the World Cup twice with Silver Charm and Captain Steve.
Aidan O'Brien's Highland Reel has also been nominated for the Sheema Classic on Turf, along with stablemate Seventh Heaven and Roger Varian's Postponed.