Tizzard and Native River’s quest for glory at Aintree

Colin and Joe Tizzard will go into battle next week with Native River at the Randox Grand National meeting at Aintree.

The 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero did not live up to his potential at Prestbury Park in early February, finishing fourth.

However, a comeback is on the cards as the 11-year-old is set for his first tilt at the Betway Bowl on Thursday week.

Joe Tizzard spoke on River's performance in the Gold Cup saying: "Native River came out of the Gold Cup fine. He knew he had had a race, but he's fine now and in full work.

"The plan is to take him to Aintree for the Bowl, as long as the ground is all right, which I'm sure it will be.

"There's not a lot of other options for him - he's not going to go to Punchestown. It will be Aintree and that will be it for the season."

Although Native River is closing in on his 11th birthday, Tizzard still believes that he is one of the best in the country, despite his advancing years: "He's still the highest rated horse in England and finished the best of the English in the Gold Cup - and he was very impressive the time before that at Sandown.

"There's no reason not to (bring him back next season)."

Trainer Colin Tizzard with Native River during the Gold Cup winners photocall at Virginia Ash, Templecombe, 2018.
Trainer Colin Tizzard with Native River during the Gold Cup winners photocall at Virginia Ash, Templecombe, 2018.

Although Native River did reach expectations, neither did his stablemate Lostintranslation, who was further disappointing, being pulled up by Robbie Power after never threatening to land a blow.

A close-up third in the race last season, the Flemensfirth gelding has failed to rediscover that level of form in four subsequent outings.

"We've done quite a few tests (since Cheltenham) and nothing really steps out," said Tizzard.

"He's not going to go to Aintree. There's an outside chance he might go to the Menorah Chase at Sandown on the last day of the season and drop down in grade a little bit.

"We can't quite put our finger on what the problem is, but it's not quite happening for him at the moment.

"It's our job to suss it all out."

Native River will be joined with highly performing companions, who proved their worth despite missing out at Cheltenham.

He will be accompanied by Eldorado Allen, who finished second behind Shishkin in the Arkle Trophy, as well as Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway placed second and third in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase.

Colin Tizzard with Eldorado Allen during the visit to Tizzard's stable at Spurles Farm, Milborne Port, March 1, 2021.
Colin Tizzard with Eldorado Allen during the visit to Tizzard's stable at Spurles Farm, Milborne Port, March 1, 2021.

Oscar Elite filled the runner-up spot in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle in the Cotswolds.

Tizzard added: "Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway are both Aintree-bound, as is Eldorado Allen, who will probably step up to two and a half miles (for the Manifesto Novices' Chase).

"I think we're going to have to run Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway against each other again in the three-mile novice. It seems a shame, but they both deserve to be there and that race suits them both.

"Oscar Elite will go to Aintree as well for the three-mile novice hurdle on the Friday (Sefton Novices' Hurdle).

"It would be nice to have a winner or two if we can."

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