The Denman Chase is a race which has been won by some of the greats of the staying chase division over the years and often provides important clues towards the Blue Riband of steeple chasing, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There are a lot of important trends which can help unearth the winner of what is an excellent race, won last year by Native River, read on for the ones which we feel are key.
- Match fitness can prove key – 12 of the last 14 winners of this race had had a run within 6 weeks
- Youth often triumphs – 10 of the last 14 winners were eight years old or younger
- Proven stamina is vital – 12 of the last 14 winners had won over three miles or further before
- Nicholls knows – 6 of the last 14 winners have been trained by Paul Nicholls
- Favourites fare reasonably – 5 of the last 14 favourites have won
This year’s renewal features not a single horse who has run within the last six weeks and the closest we have to that comes in the form of Traffic Fluide, who is a complete outsider following a poor run in the King George. That leaves just one horse who fits a majority of our trends, Native River. He has won over three miles and further before, unlike Cloudy Dream, and is eight years old unlike Saphir Du Rheu, on top of that he is the favourite and has the added bonus of a victory in this race last year.
Native River is a strong favourite for this race and rightly so on form, his Gold Cup third is a proper piece of form and the only other rival in the field who boasts something close is the Paul Nicholls trained Saphir Du Rheu, who was fifth in the same race. Colin Tizzard’s runner was ultra impressive last year when putting good distance between himself and Le Mercurey from the final flight and looks to have an excellent chance of defending his crown, he has been off since last season’s Gold Cup but reappears on his favoured ground and he ran well fresh last year over hurdles. He has won his last three at this track including this race, the race then known as the Henessy Gold Cup and a Grade 2 novice chase in 2015 so looks to have plenty in his favour this time though some caution must be employed given that this looks a stepping stone to the Gold Cup next month.
Saphir Du Rheu looks the obvious one to concentrate on after the favourite following his excellent run in the Gold Cup last season at a massive price. He didn’t start his season brilliantly over fences when beaten in a couple of handicaps when better was expected but he seemed to progress throughout the year and a couple of confidence boosting wins did him the world of good, there is a slight concern that he has not been seen since taking a tumble in the Grand Nation last season but Paul Nicholls does well in this race and should have him fit enough to show his very best, he receives six pounds off Native River and three from Cloudy Dream which puts him joint at the top in terms of ratings, he should make a bold bid if none the worse for capsizing at Aintree.
Cloudy Dream has got into a habit of finishing second this season and plenty of people will have had their fingers burnt, especially if backing him inplay. He loomed up to Smad Place in the Old Roan before seemingly failing to go through with his effort and his attitude is a slight worry against the game Native River. He is a very talented horse there is no doubt about that but it would be a brave shout off the evidence we have seen this season to say that he will be able to get past the front two in a scrap, he receives three pounds from the favourite but that may well not be enough.
Traffic Fluide often races in the top company and has been quietly fancied a few times since finishing a decent third in the 2016 running of the Clarence House but has failed to deliver a few times now and it would be a sizeable shock were he to get involved in any meaningful way here. He was well beaten in the King George last time and the Betfair Chase before that and looks out of his depth once again.