Saturday 9th February – 14:25
Saturday’s racing at Newbury is headlined by the Betfair sponsored Denman Chase, with ten runners entered in pursuit of the £28,475 prize money to the winner.
Race History of The Denham Chase
The Denman Chase, first ran in 2000 as the AON Chase, is a class 1 (grade 2) steeplechase race for horses aged over five-years-old.
There are eighteen fences over the 2 miles and 7 and a half furlong race, which acts as a principal trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Paul Nicholls is the most successful trainer in the race’s history, with eight wins, and Richard Johnson has ridden the winner four times to make him the most successful jockey.
The race was renamed The Denman Chase in 2012, when Betfair took over sponsorship.
What happened last year at The Denman Chase? The Colin Tizzard trained Native River became the first two-time winner of the race, following on from his 2017 victory, finishing ahead of Cloudy Dream and Saphir Du Rhea in a three-horse race.
Will the weekend’s Denman chase be a Two-Horse Race?
Despite the obvious class among the entries this year, the bookmakers and official ratings appear to make this a two horse race between Native River and 2018 King George VI winner Clan Des Obeaux. Will lightening strike 3 times in the same place, make Native River the winner?
2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River, chasing a third consecutive win in this race, is the betting favourite at odds of around 4/5. Clan Des Obeaux, who got the better of his rival in the King George at Kempton in December, is at odds of 13/8 to repeat that success.
Obviously, Native River is a two-time winner of this race and has to be favoured to get back to winning ways after only placing in both his starts this season. Those two performances can be forgiven, due to ground conditions going against him, and the forecast soft ground will be much more to his liking.
Clan Des Obeaux will be out to deny Native River a third win and cannot be discounted. He is unbeaten in two previous starts at Newbury, in 2015 and 2016, and able to perform on any ground.
Whatever happens, it should be a tough battle between two of the leading contenders for the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
If the leading two falter, there are a couple of other talented horses who could reap the rewards.
Anibale Fly hasn’t won since the 2017 Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown, but is third in the betting and has shown strong staying ability which may prove to be a factor here. However, he finished over eight lengths behind Native River in the 2018 Gold Cup and even a 2 lb advantage may not be enough to reverse that form.
Coneygree is one of just four horses to win this race and the Gold Cup in the same year, back in 2015, but showed promise when third to Rock the Kasbah on his return from wind surgery in November. However, he looked well held when unseating his rider in the King George and is a long way off his peak rating of 172.