Weekend Review: Altior and Native River steal show at Newbury

Altior back to winning ways

A fan favourite and four-time Cheltenham Festival winner, it was smiles all-round as Altior returned to the winners’ enclosure at Newbury on Saturday.

He faced some stiff opposition from last year’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up Sceau Royal, as well as Amy Murphy’s Kalashnikov and the Paul Nicholls trained Dynamite Dollars. Fans of Henderson’s star were given a slight scare as Altior hit a “flat spot” turning into the home straight, resulting in his jockey Nico de Boinville needing to cajole him along. Approaching the final fence it was anyone’s race as he sat two lengths behind the leader, but within a matter of strides he unleashed the devastating turn of foot that has become such a trademark for him, putting the race to bed and boosting his hopes of a fifth Festival win.

“I couldn’t have asked for more, and it will have done him the world of good.” Nicky Henderson said of his stable star.

Native River in Gold Cup form

The 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero was also on display at Newbury, and put on a show for the sizable crowd. A short-priced favourite, it was the responsibility of Jonjo O’Neil Jr. to steer Native River home in the absence of Champion Jockey Richard Johnson. The pair were straight into the lead and intended to stay there for the duration. Might Bite and Secret Investor weren’t able to land a blow as Native River kept up his relentless gallop which, coupled with a beautiful round of jumping, saw Colin Tizzard’s prized horse come home in good style. He will be heading to the Cheltenham Gold Cup once again, but also holds a Randox Health Grand National entry.

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