Newbury Saturday eyecatchers who could head to the Cheltenham Festival
Brian Healy picks out five Newbury Saturday eyecatchers from the weekend’s meeting at the Berkshire venue who could now head to the Cheltenham Festival.
Now that the dust has settled on another fantastic Betfair Hurdle meeting on Saturday past, it is time to take stock of some eye-catching performances from the seven races that went to post throughout the afternoon at the Berkshire track which could lead to a Cheltenham Festival outing for those concerned.
Brian Healy looks back on the weekend’s action at the Berkshire and picks out five Newbury Saturdday eyecatchers who could pay their way in future whether they pitch up at the Cheltenham Festival next month or beyond.
CHANTRY HOUSE (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
Arguably the most visually impressive winner, Nicky Henderson’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hope Chantry House powered clear of his field to win the Newbury opener in decisive fashion and all but book his place in the line-up for the Cheltenham Festival opener.
Always travelling comfortably under Barry Geraghty, the Yeats gelding made it 2-2 over hurdles with a commanding performance where he was always travelling strongly and he jumped well considering his relative lack of experience.
Taking up the running just after the last, he only needed to be pushed out by his rider to score easily and there’s certainly more to come from the Seven Barrows inmate after just two runs.
ONE FOR THE TEAM (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle)
While Chantry House might have been the most impressive winner of the day, One For The Team’s performance in the second race was a close second. Nick Williams’ charge posted the day’s widest winning margin with a 14 lengths’ demolition of his rivals to enter the Newbury Saturday eyecatchers notebook.
The Shirocco gelding made the most of his relative featherweight to score his easy success, travelling well into the contest before taking up the running at the third last obstacle. There was only one winner from that point as he found plenty under Chester Williams to readily brush off his hard-at-work rivals.
He holds an entry in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next month although it remains to be seen whether he’ll take up that engagement.
DYNAMITE DOLLARS (Queen Mother Champion Chase)
Making his return behind Altior in the Game Spirit Chase, Paul Nicholls’ Dynamite Dollars had been off the track following more than a year’s absence.
What had been expected to have been a cakewalk for Nicky Henderson’s dual-Champion Chase winner proved to be anything but – for a time at least – and while ultimately well on top at the finish it was the performance of the Buck’s Boum gelding which caught the eye.
Hugely progressive as a novice over fences last term, he had been absent until Saturday having last been seen winning the Lightning Novices’ Chase the previous January so he was well-entitled to have needed his return.
Jumping well throughout, he was left in the lead by the fall of Bun Doran early. He then made the rest of the running himself until headed soon after the last fence, and while he couldn’t sustain his effort to the line, he finished less than four lengths’ adrift of Altior with five lengths back to Simply Ned in fourth.
He’s sure to come on plenty for that reappearance and enters the Champion Chase picture at a big price.
MIGHT BITE (Glenfarclas Cross-Country Steeplechase)
Having lost his way badly last term, Might Bite’s Saturday’s performance in the Denman Chase was a big step back in the right direction for the 2017 King George VI Chase winner who had that titanic Gold Cup battle with Native River.
While that rival was a comfortable winner of Saturday’s feature race, it was Nicky Henderson’s charge who caught the eye delivering a much better effort than had been the case previously. The Scorpion gelding travelled well for much of the race despite showing a tendency to jump to his left and although readily held following a mistake at the second last it transpired after the race that he had lost both his front shoes.
As such, the performance was all the more creditable and it was a welcome return to form for the Seven Barrows in-mate who had looked a shadow of himself last term and in his first couple of runs in the latest campaign.
A crack at Tiger Roll in the Cross-country Chase may now be on the agenda for him come the Cheltenham Festival; but even if he doesn’t contest over the banks he could build on that better effort in the future.
OCEAN WIND (Champion Bumper)
In the closing bumper, Ocean Wind proved his earlier Cheltenham runner-up effort on New Years’ Day to be no fluke. He posted an easy eight lengths’ success over his field and the impressive performance will surely have connections considering bigger prizes with the son of Teofilo.
A Huntingdon winner on his debut, he found only one too good by a neck in the Listed bumper at Cheltenham on New Years’ Day. But he improved for the step up to two miles to score readily on Saturday.
Turning into the home straight he was travelling well having been briefly niggled down the back. Sent to the front entering the last two furlongs by jockey Aidan Coleman he showed a decisive turn of foot to put the race to bed.
He could now go to Cheltenham for Wednesday’s Champion Bumper where he won’t be without claims with further improvement to come.