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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Connections puzzled by Gold Cup hopeful's Newbury flop

Native River surges clear of Le Mercurey and Bristol De Mai to win the Denman Chase
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Nigel Twiston-Davies has not ruled out a shot at the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with Bristol De Mai but admits he cannot yet explain why the six-year-old ran so poorly in Saturday's Denman Chase.

The Peter Marsh Chase winner was sent off 10-11 favourite to lower the colours of Native River at Newbury but finished last of the three runners, nine and a quarter lengths adrift of the Hennessy and Welsh National winner.

"He's very lame this morning - we've x-rayed him at home and nothing has shown up so I don't know what happened but things weren't right," Twiston-Davies said on Sunday.

"The good thing is we've still got five weeks until the Gold Cup so hopefully we can get things right again."

Bristol De Mai's flop was the only real blemish on an otherwise superb Saturday for Twiston-Davies, who expects ground conditions to determine whether Betfair Hurdle winner Ballyandy contests the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle or the longer Neptune Novices' Hurdle.

"I haven't a clue where we'll go at the moment," he said. "He'll be staying in the two novice races and we'll see what the ground is like. If it quickens up a lot we might go for the two and half; if it stays like it is now we'd probably go for the two."

Twiston-Davies added: "He's always been a very good horse and everything worked out for him this weekend."

Twiston-Davies was also on the scoresheet at Warwick, where Flying Angel ran out a ready winner of the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices' Chase to set up a Cheltenham Festival tilt.

Both the Racing Post Arkle and JLT Novices' Chase are options for last year's Imperial Cup winner, and Twiston-Davies is not ruling out a crack at Altior in the Arkle.

"The good thing about Altior is he may frighten everybody off and you could go to the Arkle and pick up some nice place money," he said. "You should never be frightened of one horse."

The good thing is we've still got five weeks until the Gold Cup so hopefully we can get things right again
E.W. Terms
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