Hales relishing Newbury clash between Politologue and Altior

Trainer Paul Nicholls with Politologue.
Trainer Paul Nicholls with Politologue.
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Owner John Hales is eagerly looking forward to seeing Politologue clash with Altior in the Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury on Saturday.

Better known as the Game Spirit Chase, the race is a natural stepping stone towards the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month.

Altior won this race as a novice last season before claiming the Arkle, while Politologue was still running over two and a half miles.

However, since dropping back to the minimum distance, Paul Nicholls’s grey is unbeaten when he has completed, including in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December.

“He’s been electric this year and I’m looking forward to it,” Hales said.

“It’s nice to see Altior is going to run.

“It will be a good contest and that’s what it’s all about.”

Hales added: “When he’s stood up, he’s unbeaten over two miles. It took us some time to realise that was his trip but since we have, there’s been no looking back.

“His jumping is his biggest asset. He’s very quick and very accurate. I call him a coat-of-paint job because he leaves no gap between himself and the fence – there’s no air.

“That’s a trait of all the best two-milers, looking back at them.”

Anthony Honeyball could let his smart novice Fountains Windfall tackle Native River in the Betfair Denman Chase on the same card.

“He won his last race at Kempton easily, it became a bit of a school round in the end,” Honeyball said.

“I just need to try to work out the next step.

“We put him in the Denman as a bit of a punt and we’re looking at ground and all sorts. He does have other options, but the Denman is very much in our minds.

“He doesn’t know the other horses are more experienced, it will be a small field and they won’t go much quicker than they did around Kempton,” he said.

“They are just horses, albeit very good ones.

“I just need to weigh it up and I’m not sure what Aidan Coleman is doing as I don’t really want to put someone else on in what is hopefully his last run before the RSA,” added Honeyball.

The funeral of much respected North Yorkshire trainer Malcolm Jefferson will take place on Friday, February 16, at St Mary’s Church, Old Malton. The service will begin at 11.30am.