There are few better cards on a Saturday than Newbury's appropriately named 'Super Saturday' fixture that was staged yesterday and after being unable to attend last years star studded card that was moved forward 6 days due to the original fixture being abandoned due to snow I was not going to miss out on this most informative of NH cards for the second successive year and the 3 hour journey from Essex was handsomely rewarded beginning with the first appearance of Denman on a racecourse since he retired in 2011 and 'The Tank' looked as good if not better than ever at the scene of his greatest triumph when he returned from a heart problem to land the 2009 Hennessy Gold Cup on a very emotional day at Newbury. Many thanks must go for connections for allowing racegoers for allowing is to see this magnificent horse who received a tremendous ovation on his return to Newbury.
Steady rain left the ground conditions very soft and the opening race of this high class seven race cars was a 2m novice hurdle and and Nicky Henderson's Chatterbox who is owned by the same syndicate as Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth ran out a comfortable winner from Paul Nicholls debutant Lac Fontana. Both look the winner and runner up look nice prospects.
The 3m Handicap hurdle with huge field of 18 runners saw the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Master Of The Sea complete a four timer with a convincing win from this very competitive field and now looks let to head to Cheltenham with the Pertamps Final and Martin Pipe Conditional Handicap Hurdle both mentioned as possible targets.
The Denman Chase in which the great horse himself led the parade before the race looking a picture of health saw a high class field of 8 assembled for this Cheltenham Gold Cup trial with Paul Nicholls Betfair Chase winner Silviniaco Conti making his first appearance since his impressive win at Haydock where he had last years Gold Cup runner up The Giant Bolster who was 3rd behind him at Haydock also in the line up. Another fascinating runner was Tom George's French import Mail De Bievre who was having his first run for 509 days after rising to the top of the chasing ranks in France make his first start in the UK over fences (he was once trained by Alan King in his younger days) and he put up a very bold show going of at a good pace and jumping superbly before understandably getting tired after such a long lay off down the home straight and it was Ruby Walsh's likely Gold Cup mount Silviniaco Conti who continued his progress putting in a very accurate display of jumping and quickening up nicely to score by 7 lengths from The Giant Bolster who ran much better than his previous start at Kempton in The King George where possibly the track didn't suit. Menorah failed to see out the 3m trip in 3rd with Junior staying on to take 4th from the exciting Mail De Bievre. Paul Nicholls stated that the winner would come on for the race and he must have leading chance of giving the trainer his 5th Gold Cup victory in March.
The 2m Betfair Super Saturday Chase a established Champion Chase trial sadly didn't feature Simonsig after a blood test wasn't 100% correct earlier in the week and Wishful Thinking took advantage of Nicky Henderson's star novice chasers absence to stay on to run on strongly to see of French Opera. This race has seen the likes of Master Minded and Sprinter Sacre win in recent years but its very doubtful the result will have much significance on the market for the Champion Chase in March.
The days feature race the Betfair Hurdle is always one of the most competitive handicap hurdles of the season with a field of 21 lining up for this very valuable race worth 150k. Nicky Henderon saddled six horses for this race that he had previously won four times in the past and the 5/1 favourite My Tent Or Yours owned by JP McManus who tragically lost Darlan and also Like A Butterfly earlier in the week ended a tough week on a high note turning this highly competitive handicap into a procession joining the leaders Cotton Mill and Swing Bowler 2 out while still hard on the bridle and AP McCoy only needed to push this high class novice out to to score by 5 lengths that could well have been at least double if he had got serious with the horse. My Tent Or Yours is now hot favourite for the Supreme Novice Hurdle and has even been quoted in the betting for the Champion Hurdle where he would need to be supplemented at a cost of £20,000 which is loose change to the owner but surely on this display he looks Festival Banker material in the Supreme Novice Hurdle despite the owner also having Jezki lined up for the race. It could well be a one two to start the Festival for JP.
The 3m Novice Chase saw a small but select field line up with Paul Nicholls Unioniste going off odds on favourite after his impressive win in handicap company at Cheltenham in December. This would be his first attempt at 3m and always up with the pace he just held on to see off the challenge of Hadrians Approach who made a bad mistake 2 out which most likely cost him the race as he only failed by a short head to reel in the winner on the run in after being 3 lengths down jumping the last. Both horses have been comfortably beaten by RSA Chase favourite Dynaste earlier in the season and I find it hard to see these two turning the tables on him at Cheltenham but both the winner and runner up look very nice chasing prospects for the future.
I decided to leave after this race and the final race went to the favourite Oscar Rock trained by Harry Fry who is having a excellent debut season in the training ranks.
The highlight of the day was without doubt My Tent Or Yours scintillating success in the Betfair Hurdle and there was lots to like about Silviniaco Conti's polished display to land the Denman Chase and ill also be fascinated to bee where Tom George sends Mail De Bievre next after jumping and travelling so well for such a long way on his debut of British fences. The Champion Chase has been mentioned but from a personal point of view I believe he would be a awesome sight around Grand National course and the Topham Chase droping back to 2m6f could suit very well indeed and he would take some pegging back around Aintree if they took that route with him. But it was a day for JP McManus, Nicky Henderson and a emotional AP McCoy so lets hope My Tent Or Yours can scale the heights the the ill fated Darlan promised to reach.