The big names returned in style yesterday at Newbury with both Native River and Altior winning impressively. Starting off with Native River, I was very happy to see this horse win in the style that he did. Not from a personal financial point of view as I didn't have a bet in the race but for Colin Tizzard himself. A lot of people myself included thought this stable were going to hit new heights this season with all of the big guns at his disposal, Fox Norton, Thistlecrack, Finians Oscar, Cue Card to name but a few however it hasn't panned out that way with injury plaguing some and others just not running to form. So it was a welcomed sight to see Native River return in style and emerge a live contender for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Moving onto the Altior performance and he never looked like he'd been away did he? Moved swiftly and precisely throughout the race before putting Grade 1 winner Politologue to the sword in rather effortless style. Nicky Henderson was later quoted to of said it was perfection from his point of view and it consequently led to many bookmakers slashing Altior's price to odds on for the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March where he's likely to face the likes of Min and potentially Douvan as well.
Warwick saw a potential star emerge in The Kingmaker as Saint Calvados put in another merciless display putting his rivals to the sword with the minimal of fuss and the horse I was most looking forward to seeing Benie Des Dieux won the Listed Chase over there in nice style beating stablemate Asthuria into second.
Having a look towards Sunday's action and there's really decent cards on display and i've focused on those at Punchestown & Exeter. Notably Punchestown as you'd expect on a Sunday in Ireland has thrown up some really hot contests none more so than the Grand National Trial Handicap of which Gordon Elliott looks to have a strong hand as you'd expect. I think the one to keep an eye out for here for Gordon is Folsom Blue, winner of this race back in 2014 and looks to of been targeted this by his new yard here.
Over to Exeter and there's also some hot contests to get stuck into and the one that has taken my eye more than most 2.30 which is a Hurdle over two miles. This is a fascinating contest in my opinion however it's only attracted the five runners which makes it hard to look at it from an each way angle. I do think Solo Saxophone is slightly overpriced at around 12/1 and could run a big race at that price however it's Vision Des Flos that really interests me. A horse with a big price tag that hasn't found his feet yet but his stable are just coming into some form and I think he'll run a big race here.