Tuesday 11 December 2018

Go with the flow and take 'River' to make the frame in blue riband

Beat The Bookie

Native River will relish the soft ground and can finish in the Gold Cup places under Richard Johnson. Photo: PA
Native River will relish the soft ground and can finish in the Gold Cup places under Richard Johnson. Photo: PA
Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

The final chapter of another epic week culminates with the apex of ambition for every aspiring racehorse owner. The ultimate dizzy dream is to win a Gold Cup. A new champion will emerge today.

The race initially revolves around Might Bite, a mercurial jumping talent. But this son of Scorpion stands accused as an equine head case.

In the 2017 Cheltenham RSA Novice Chase, he attempted to exit the course after jumping the last fence when clear.

My main reservation about this front-runner's stamina limitations to make all for what is equivalent to a four-mile marathon on unsuitable heavy ground.

My preference is for the ultra-consistent Native River. I can't envisage him finishing outside the first three.

He's peaking at eight years old, and has tough, consistent course and Festival form, being placed over past two years. Safest jumper in the field. Stays forever. A lighter campaign this season means a fresh horse laid out for the race.


An Irish winner? Huge improver Road To Respect is opposed on this unsuitable softer surface. Both Our Duke and Killultagh Vic can't afford their customary crashing clangers at these stiff obstacles. Willie's Total Recall can outrun his odds.

This race is such a gruelling test that Might Bite may be found out, his running style and quirks can ultimately count against him, but don't be surprised if he looks like he's going to bolt up turning for home. Richard Johnson can keep hustling Native River.

My day's banker bet - Place only. Odds against is value.

In the Triumph Hurdle, unbeaten triple course winner filly Apple's Shakira has the benefit of 7lbs gender allowance. Nicky Henderson loves this full sister to Apple's Jade, which is a superb jumper.

I can't fancy Redicean. There's a world of difference between here and Kempton's flat track. English juvenile form may have the edge after Wednesday's Fred Winter result, so Barry Geraghty can repel Irish raiders Mr Adjudicator and Farclas up the hill.

The Albert Bartlett Hurdle for staying novices is an absolute slog, with long-priced upsets over the past four years. Heavy ground conditions makes this renewal even more attritional.

I was really taken by Chef Des Obeaux's stamina in a Grade Two at Haydock in February in bog-like conditions. He's improving, having won his last three races; the handicapper has raised him 21lbs.

Henderson won this with Bobs Worth before going on to win a Gold Cup. His Santini has class, is unbeaten. Nicky rates him very highly for the future, but he's optimal over two-and-a-half miles.

The Irish challenge seems unusually tepid, headed by Henry de Bromhead's Chris's Dream. His wins at Limerick/Clonmel weren't top tier. Saddler Maker's proven staying progeny is what'll get Chef Des Obeaux home.

The amateurs' Foxhunters' Chase contains main Irish hope Burning Ambition. This emerging seven-year-old potential star was the greatest 'talking horse' from the point-to-point circuit over the past season.

The probable favourite, he ticks lots of boxes, having romped home in Limerick's hunter chase at Christmas. His Punchestown defeat last time out to Gilgamboa was underwhelming.

Ted Walsh's Foxrock previously travelled to Cheltenham twice, running deplorably both times. Same could happen today, while heavy ground puts paid to Wonderful Charm's chances.

Also note the booking of Jamie Codd and that's another reason why Pierce Michael Power's charge is part of my each-way yankee today.

The Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle is an ultra-competitive maximum field. A plot up race. Market moves for JP McManus' Early Doors are of interest. His earlier novice form is eye-catching, including his Naas win in November and subsequent soft-ground second in the Grade One Royal Bond. Three previous bumper runs were top drawer.

Ignore his last run. Joseph O'Brien has laid him out for this. As bookies lay up to six places here, he can make the frame.

Other hopefuls today: Sandsend (2.10); Theinval (5.30).

Yates' EW Yankee

3.30 Native River (NAP) place only 1.30 Apple’s Shakira

2.50 Chef Des Obeaux

4.10 Burning Ambition

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