24 hours on from Native River’s impressive display in the Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase, another of Colin Tizzard’s main hopes for the Cheltenham Festival, Finian’s Oscar, delivered an authoritative performance in a Listed contest at Exeter.
Alan and Ann Potts’ £250,000 purchase went off at odds of 1/16 for the two mile and one furlong contest and despite shouldering an 8lb penalty for his victory in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle last time, the five-year-old son of Oscar extended his unbeaten run under rules to three wins with a decisive four and a half-length success.
Under Tom O’Brien, Tizzard’s charge tracked David Pipe’s Taws early on but after taking the lead, Finian’s Oscar never looked back and was merely pushed out by his jockey to register victory.
That contest looked a lovely pipe-opener for the Irish-bred gelding. However discussion will now turn as to whether the horse runs in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Prestbury Park, over two miles where he is a general 10-1 chance or the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half-miles for which he justifies favouritism at 4-1.
Alluding to his dilemma after the race, Tizzard said: “That hasn’t told us anything and I’m still in the dark as to whether he will run in the Neptune or the Supreme. I really don’t know which one.
“We will talk about it in the next two weeks. All we know is that was only his third hurdle race and it shows his well-being, nothing more. He’s a very relaxed horse, as we saw today, but we haven’t really gained anything.
“Everyone was in today’s race at the five-day stage, but they backed off.”
The Dorset handler was out of luck later on the card when Gold Cup dark horse Alary took a crashing fall three fences out in the 188bet.co.uk Graduation Chase over three miles. The French import was pulled up on his debut in Britain in the Grade Two Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock but jumped and traveled well at Exeter before taking what looked a tired fall. Lizzie Kelly and Tea For Two went on to win the race.
Tizzard, who had not had a winner before Saturday since Festival Trials Day gained two at Newbury with Morello Royale following up the success of Native River in the Denman Chase Saturday in which the seven-year-old son of Indian River showed a blistering turn of foot after the last to come clear of his two rivals by three and a quarter-lengths. That victory enhanced Native River’s Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials no-end and he is now a general 7/2 shot for National Hunt Racing’s Blue Riband event.