Native River out to defend his crown

Native River looking for the double at Cheltenham
Native River looking for the double at Cheltenham

The Magner’s Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase over 3 miles and 2 furlongs on Friday sees Native River, winner in 2018, out to defend his crown.

Native River (3.30) gets the nod ahead of Presenting Percy, trained by Willie Mullins to triumph in the day’s showpiece race.

Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien saddles Sir Erec (1.30) in The Triumph Hurdle over 2 miles, notably backed down from 6-1 to even money favourite: “Sir Erec shows plenty of speed, and has stamina”, said O’Brien.

Jockey Mark Walsh said: “Hopefully he’ll show up at Cheltenham in good form.”

The Randox Health Country Hurdle (2.10) over 2 miles sees 26 runners go to post, with Whiskey Sour tipped, and Monsieur Lecoq selected each way.

The Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (2.50) over 2m 7f includes Leader win tip Birchdale, Dickie Diver and Commander Of Fleet go head to head.

Gordon Elliott trained Commander Of Fleet, purchased for a bargain 47,000 euros, is an each way selection.

Richard Hobson trained Shantou Flyer (4.10) is noted (each way) as is Ucello Conti (ew) in The Foxhunters Steeple Chase Challenge Cup: “The long term aim has been the Foxhunters – hopefully he’ll peak at Cheltenham,” said Hobson.

Gordon Elliott trained Dallas des Pictons (5.30) is tipped in the Martin Pipe  Handicap Hurdle: “He’s a nice horse who has improved in every race we’ve had him,” said Elliott. Pym is selected ew.

The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual entry Magic Saint (4.50) is tipped, the Paul Nicholls trained horse specifically trained for the race: “I’ve always been training him with the Grand Annual in mind – he’s a leading chance,” said Nicholls. Whatswrongwothyou (ew).