RACING fan Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bet from Saturday's action at Newbury.
2:25 Newbury | Betfair Denman Chase | ITV4
The Betfair Denman Chase sees three line up but it's a fantastic three. Two previous Grade 1 winners return from a break and this should provide a few clues for the big Spring festivals.
Native River won the Welsh National and this race last season before finishing third in the Gold Cup. That was the last time he was seen and has a lot to prove here. His main target is in March and it's possible he will need this, so at a touch of odds-on he's opposable.
Saphir Du Rheu has been an amazing servant to connections and is a Grade 1 winner. He ran well in the Gold Cup before falling in the Grand National. He is another likely to improve significantly for this and I can't see him winning this.
Cloudy Dream (9/4 Ladbrokes) is an incredibly consistent horse and is likely to run his race here. He's also very talented and with race fitness on his side he will be hard to beat here. He has a little to find with the other two but there are definitely reasons to back him here.
3:00 Newbury | Betfair Exchange Stakes | ITV4
The Betfair Exchange Stakes is another small field and it looks to be between two, but they are two seriously talented horses and this could be a spectacular duel.
First up Altior, the best chaser training and one of the top National Hunt stars in recent years. He returns here after a breathing op, which if it was successful he is the most likely winner of this and the Champion Chase.
However this is very much a prep for Cheltenham and trainer Nicky Henderson has indicated he could be vulnerable. I want him to be the same horse he was when winning this 12 months ago, but I'm not backing him.
Politologue (7/4 Sportingbet) is a Grade 1-winning chaser in his own right and has been well backed for the Champion Chase. On official ratings he only has 5lbs to find with the favourite and he's improved significantly this season.
Again, another one who has race fitness on his side, he is going to put all sorts of pressure on Altior and will exploit any weaknesses.
2:25 Newbury – Cloudy Dream (9/4 Ladbrokes)
3:00 Newbury – Politologue (7/4 Sportingbet)