Small but star-filled fields for Newbury chases

Altior: faces some very good rivals in Game Spirit

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Small but star-filled fields in Newbury chases By David Baxter 11:09AM 10 FEB 2017

EIGHT runners will contest Newbury's pair of Grade 2 chases on Saturday, each of which carry a prize fund of £50,000.

While there is a lack of quantity, there is plenty of quality, with Timico Gold Cup second-favourite Native River squaring off against impressive Peter Marsh Chase winner Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Denman Chase.

Le Mercurey completes the trio for a race which could have a significant bearing on the Cheltenham Festival highlight.

Welsh National winner Native River is behind only stablemate Thistlecrack in the Gold Cup market at a general 9-2, while Bristol De Mai can be backed at 12-1.

Five have been declared for the Betfair Exchange Chase, which is registered as the Game Spirit Chase, and again while low on numbers, there are some stars on show.

Racing Post Arkle favourite Altior heads the cast, but takes on Fox Norton, who is second-favourite for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, and Dodging Bullets, who won the festival race in 2015.

Traffic Fluide and Gino Trail complete the field.

Newbury's head of communications Andy Clifton was not disappointed with the small fields and said: "In an ideal world we'd have eight for each race, but it's unrealistic to expect trainers to run their horses against superstars where they have no chance of winning.

"Altior is a big draw and we have outstanding quality in both races. The Denman Chase is fascinating and I'm pretty happy with the fields."

Lough chases third Irish Gold Cup

Declarations were also made for Sunday's highlight in Ireland, the Stan James Irish Gold Cup.
Previous winner Carlingford Lough is bidding for a hat-trick in the Grade 1 and takes on seven opponents, including last year's runner-up Road To Riches.
Carlingford Lough's owner JP McManus has another pair of chances, with Jonjo O'Neill sending over Minella Rocco and More Of That, who was also entered for the Denman Chase.

Barry Geraghty rides Carlingford Lough, with Mark Walsh on More Of That and Aidan Coleman on Minella Rocco.

Gordon Elliott has Don Poli and Empire Of Dirt, with Sizing John, Road To Riches and Zabana complete the field.

The stars are also on show at Exeter on Sunday, with Alary, Finian's Oscar, Reve De Sivola and Tea For Two all declared on the card.

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