Native River to spearhead Tizzard team at Aintree

Native River will lead Colin and Joe Tizzard’s team into battle at next week’s Randox Grand National meeting at Aintree.

The 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero came up short in his bid to regain his crown at Prestbury Park earlier in the month, but was far from disgraced in finishing fourth – the fourth time he has finished in the first four in the blue riband.

The 11-year-old is now set for his first tilt at the Betway Bowl on Thursday week.

Joe Tizzard, who will shortly take over the licence from his father Colin, said: “Native River came out of the Gold Cup fine. He knew he’d 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.”

Despite his advancing years, Tizzard expects Native River to return next term, adding: “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).”

Far more disappointing in the Gold Cup was Native River’s stablemate Lostintranslation, who was pulled up by Robbie Power after never threatening to land a blow.

Lostintranslation has endured a disappointing campaign
Lostintranslation has endured a disappointing campaign (Anthony Devlin/PA)

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 is set to be joined at Aintree by a handful of stable companions who did perform well in defeat at Cheltenham.

Eldorado Allen finished a creditable second behind Shishkin in the Arkle Trophy, while Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway placed second and third respectively behind the mighty Monkfish in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Oscar Elite, meanwhile, 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).

Trainer Colin Tizzard with Eldorado Allen
Trainer Colin Tizzard with Eldorado Allen (David Davies/PA)

“I think we’re going to have to run Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway against each other again in the three-mile novice (Mildmay Novices’ Chase). 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.”

Colin Tizzard to hand over reins to son Joe later this year

Colin Tizzard concedes he is ready to hand the licence at Venn Farm Stables to his son and assistant Joe, a development he expects to happen by the autumn.

The 65-year-old trainer revealed at Wincanton on Thursday that subject to his son passing his training modules there will be a different name on the licence ahead of the start of the 2021/2022 season proper, later in the year.

His admission that Joe deserves to take over in a profession that he said “is a great life, but one in which you are always dealing with expectation as well as disappointments” comes exactly a week before the Tizzards field a twin-pronged challenge on the Gold Cup with Native River and Lostintranslation.

Tizzard, whose appearances on the racecourse have been few and far between during the various lockdowns, explained: “Joe is doing more and more, and deserves to have his name at the top. He deserves to be allowed to go on. He’s more than ready, while I’m 65 and don’t want to wake up every morning to worry.

Colin Tizzard at Wincanton
Colin Tizzard at Wincanton (PA)

“Training’s a hard life in which you deal with expectation and disappointment. I’ve had my time and have a hankering to travel and do things I’ve never been able to do. As long as Covid doesn’t prevent it, I would like to go to see New Zealand.”

Tizzard said he was at the last Cheltenham meeting in December, but has not been racing very much since. He added: “I shall go back there next week and I’m delighted we’re coming through it (Covid) now.

“Our horses are back in good form with three or four winners each week, and they are generally running quite well.

“Native River has won a Gold Cup and finished third and fourth in two others. Half his races have been on good to soft and his form is as good as any. He had a lovely prep at Aintree and went on to the Cotswold Chase, and is the top-rated chaser in England.

“This rain is good to see, but he doesn’t need it heavy, even as old as he is. He won’t sit, he will be putting it up to them and as we know he can blow a good horse away.”

Lostintranslation (left), Native River (centre) and The Big Breakaway at Colin Tizzard's yard
Lostintranslation (left), Native River (centre) and The Big Breakaway at Colin Tizzard’s yard (David Davies/PA)

Tizzard revealed Lostintranslation put in a serious bit of work on Thursday morning to indicate he is back in the game. The 2020 Gold Cup third has looked out of sorts in all three of his races this season at Haydock, Kempton and Newbury.

He said: “He’s really come in his coat, and was great today. In fact he’s had a better run-up to Cheltenham than he did last year. He’s a big, heavy horse that likes good ground and is in the best form he’s been in this season at home.

“As a novice over fences we couldn’t get to the bottom of him, and I think at Newbury (Denman Chase) he used up energy to get there four out. If he can show what he’s showing at home then he’s a contender.”

The stable will almost certainly be double-handed in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase with The Big Breakaway and Fiddlerontheroof.

Tizzard said: “Right now nothing can stay with him (The Big Breakaway) on the gallops. He’s in beautiful form and with a clear round will be very hard to beat. He’s our best chance of a winner at the Festival.”

Tizzard double fuels Festival hopes

A short-priced double in spring-like conditions at Exeter fuelled hopes that Colin Tizzard’s yard is returning to form just in time Cheltenham next week.

Tizzard’s Dorset stable has struggled for much of the season, but smooth victories from Killer Kane and Amarillo Sky – both under Harry Cobden – confirmed the green shoots of recovery which have been in evidence of late.

Killer Kane was sent off 5-6 favourite for the Get Daily Tips At Maiden Hurdle, dominating the final mile to come home five and a half lengths clear from Our Surprise.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard sees the winner as a future chaser, and said: “He’s a lovely big baby who wasn’t doing a lot in front, but quickened up nicely for one tiny smack.

“Everything he does over hurdles is a bonus.”

Cobden added: “He’s very big and raw – and the couple of times I asked him to put in an extra stride, he did. I think he’s going to be a staying type. He wants two and a half now, and will need three miles when he gets a bit older.”

Two of the yard’s highest-profile Festival contenders are WellChild Gold Cup pair Native River and Lostintranslation.

Tizzard gave an upbeat report on both.

He said of 2018 winner Native River: “He came out of his last race (victory in the Cotswold Chase) really well and has enjoyed a little break.

“The rain that’s forecast in the next few days will definitely help him.”

Lostintranslation was third in last year’s Gold Cup but has failed to rediscover that form in three starts this season.

Tizzard said: “Lostintranslation looks a lot fitter than he did at Newbury (a distant fifth in the Denman Chase) and scoped clean after the race.

“We have not given up hope of getting him back to where we were with him on Gold Cup day last year.”

Amarillo Sky could be named the winner of the Every Race Live On Racing TV Handicap Hurdle some way out, as Cobden confidently let the 5-2 favourite go about his business and stretch seven lengths clear of Steady Away.

“I thought his novice hurdle form was OK, and he got stuck in the mud at Huntingdon,” said Tizzard.

“He loved that better ground, and is a beautiful young horse who is at the right end of the handicap.”

Nico de Boinville was successful with his only ride of the day when 6-4 joint-favourite Valsheda won the opening Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Novices’ Hurdle for Nicky Henderson.

After the combination had come home four lengths clear of Johnny B, De Boinville said: “He’s a big, raw horse with so much potential.

“Doncaster (distant second on debut) was part of the learning curve, and I was keen to get him back upsides Party Fuzz. We’re looking forward to getting him over fences.”

Run To Milan was a popular locally-trained winner, taking control up the straight in the Join Racing TV Now Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

Under Alan Johns, the bottom weight and 4-1 joint-favourite pulled 12 lengths clear of Larkbarrow Lad, and trainer Victor Dartnall said: “He was a good horse until getting injured on his first run over fences at Uttoxeter.

“He’d beaten Lalor in a bumper at Wincanton, and still has few miles on the clock.

“He came back at Fakenham, where he made a mistake and overreached, dragging two shoes off. This ground was perfect, but he wouldn’t want it any quicker than good.”

There was a 40-1 shock in the Watch On Racing TV Handicap Chase when Bonanza Sam made virtually all under conditional Alexander Thorne to beat Writteninthesand by two and a quarter lengths.

Tizzards hoping Breakaway has big chance against Monkfish

Joe Tizzard is confident The Big Breakaway has the potential to beat the best at this year’s Cheltenham Festival – and many more to come.

Assistant trainer Tizzard admits he may be biased because it was he who first spotted the strapping chestnut at the Goffs Punchestown sales almost two years ago, and helped to persuade a consortium of owners to buy him.

The Big Breakaway has already repaid some of the £360,000 purchase price, with three victories in his five starts for Joe and his father Colin’s Dorset yard.

But Tizzard hopes those successes are merely early staging posts to Festival glories – whether in this month’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, against mighty Irish favourite Monkfish, or in future years.

The Big Breakaway goes through his paces
The Big Breakaway goes through his paces (David Davies/PA)

“He’s a massively talented horse who’s going to win or be competitive in these big events,” said Tizzard, who senses The Big Breakaway may have learned enough in his near four-length defeat as a Grade One runner-up at Kempton on Boxing Day to put his experience into telling practice at Cheltenham.

“When we went to the Kauto Star (Novices’ Chase), we had to drop him in and go back to basics,” he added.

“Dan’s horse (Shan Blue for the Skelton yard) jumped and galloped and got a march on him, and his jumping got found out over the last four or five fences.

“But I also think that Kempton run was what we were looking to do – and we hope that was the making of the horse. He learned more there, and this time we can ride him without making the running, third or fourth, and Cheltenham will suit him better anyway.

“The initial reaction from Kempton was Robbie (Power) came in and was delighted with the horse and said ‘that is what we needed last time’.”

The “last time” was when The Big Breakaway, already successful on his chasing debut at Cheltenham in November, had dropped back in trip to under two and a half miles at Exeter and suffered a chastening defeat as a long odds-on favourite.

After Kempton, the hope was for more “match practice” at either Wetherby or Ascot – but first the weather intervened, and then time narrowly ran out.

“We were declared to go up to Wetherby for the Towton and we lost that (to waterlogging),” Tizzard added.

“Then we had him in the Reynoldstown and we very nearly did it – but we were just mindful that he knew he’d had a race at Kempton, so we didn’t want to run (again) three weeks before the Festival and give him too hard a race.

“It was literally down to the wire whether we ran in the Reynoldstown, and we decided just to save a bit of petrol for Cheltenham.

“Will that backfire? Who knows? We’ve done plenty of schooling with him at home – but you can’t beat match practice.

“We hope the Kempton run just taught him more than he perhaps ever learned throughout his career.

“He’s not the finished article yet, so Kempton just tucked him up a little bit and made him a bit light. So we were just wary we didn’t want to do that three weeks before the Festival.”

Tizzard has no doubts about the six-year-old’s ability, long term.

“I don’t think he’s done an awful lot wrong,” he added.

“In the back of our minds, we were quite keen to get some race experience into him. We felt like we wanted to get to Cheltenham with three or four runs under our belts.

“Then next year, we’ll have the experience – because he’s going to be in the big league next year, whatever happens.

“So we went to Exeter, and it backfired. He was left to make all his own running, and he completely dossed along and got outsprinted from the last.

“(But) he’s already won a chase round Cheltenham; he’s been second in a Grade One over fences. He’s a horse who’s maturing all the time, and I’m sure his time will come.”

Colin Tizzard with Lostintranslation (left), Native River (centre) and The Big Breakaway
Colin Tizzard with Lostintranslation (left), Native River (centre) and The Big Breakaway (David Davies/PA)

When it does, there will be extra satisfaction for the man who first picked him out to recruit.

“We arrived at Punchestown, and fell in love with the horse straight away – but didn’t think for a second we’d be in a position to buy it,” said Tizzard.

“But myself and John Romans – a big supporter of the yard and good mate of mine – had 15 pints of Guinness, and managed to pick up the courage to do the deal!

“Well, not strictly like that, but we managed to get three of them together and got the horse bought.

“There’s no pressure on me. The horse has already proven he’s got ability. (But) it’s just nice, when I help persuade owners to spend a lot of money, that they get their rewards.

“I’d be absolutely delighted for them. They’re already chuffed to bits – this horse has got a big future, he’s only young, and he will have his day at some stage.”

Monkfish will be a formidable Cheltenham opponent
Monkfish will be a formidable Cheltenham opponent (PA)

The Big Breakaway will be joined by stablemate Fiddlerontheroof, a Grade One-winning hurdler and successful chaser too, in the three-mile novice championship.

Although very respectful of the opposition, Tizzard is optimistic about his yard’s twin challenge.

He said: “Monkfish has looked amazingly impressive, hasn’t he? But we’re at Cheltenham, so it’s not expected to be easy.

“I’m a bit biased, because I bought The Big Breakaway – but I think he’s a hugely talented horse.

“I know he’s in a competitive division. But we think an awful lot of him, and I’d be wary of (anyone) writing him off too soon.”

‘Warrior’ Native River leading Gold Cup charge for Team Tizzard

Joe Tizzard is banking on stable stalwart Native River to do him and his father Colin proud again in the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Assistant trainer Tizzard is full of hope too that the yard’s Lostintranslation can bounce back to form and outrun big odds in the Festival showpiece.

Native River, who emerged from a titanic battle with Might Bite to win the great race in 2018, is less than half the price of his stablemate in the current ante-post lists.

Native River on the gallops at Colin Tizzard's Dorset yard
Native River on the gallops at Colin Tizzard’s Dorset yard (David Davies/PA)

But Tizzard struggles to choose between them, and points out only when he knows ground conditions for sure on March 19 may he be able to do so with any conviction.

Although Native River, fourth in his Gold Cup defence two years ago and ruled out by injury 12 months ago, would relish a return to the mud which has prevailed for so much of this winter, Lostintranslation’s chances could hinge on an extended dry spell.

Assessing hopes of Native River regaining his title at the age of 11, Tizzard said: “I think the horse is performing every bit as well as when he won a Gold Cup.

“I think he’s just a bit more ground dependent at this stage. Nowadays, he would need a bit of soft ground – just because otherwise, everything would be perhaps too quick for him.

“With the soft ground, he can just maintain that gallop.”

Native River proved his ability is intact with a trademark front-running victory in the rerouted Cotswold Chase at Sandown last month, while Lostintranslation has been well below form this season, since finishing a close third as Al Boum Photo won his second successive Gold Cup last March.

Tizzard is not about to second-guess the unpredictable spring weather.

Colin Tizzard poses with Gold Cup contender Lostintranslation
Colin Tizzard poses with Gold Cup contender Lostintranslation (David Davies/PA)

He said: “It is (drying up). But who knows? We’re still far enough away – it wouldn’t take a lot to put it back. It was waterlogged 10 days ago.

“Native River is going in there with the best form (of all our Festival horses).

“He will run his race – that’s the thing. Native River just doesn’t run a bad race, so he will go there and perform.

“He’s not slow – he just maintains that gallop for three-and-a-quarter miles. He’s just a warrior – and if he’s got a chance, still close enough at the bottom of the hill, he’ll be doing his best work up it.”

His younger stablemate is an entirely different case.

“Lostintranslation has got questions to answer,” added Tizzard.

“But if it’s good to soft, then I certainly wouldn’t be writing him off.

“Absolutely, Lostintranslation could (outrun his odds).

“The reason he’s that price is because of this season’s performances. He wasn’t that price after being beaten two lengths in it last year.

“We can now push him hard for 10 days, a fortnight, to make sure he’s match ready.”

Tizzard knows Native River will be ready, having given the yard a much-needed lift at Sandown after a tough winter in which their horses have been out of form.

“They say the best horses always get you out of a bit of a pickle, and he was a winner we’d been waiting for,” he said.

“He’s been absolutely bombproof for a couple of years. It’s gone under the radar a little bit, but he did nothing wrong last year – two from two, then just slightly tweaked a tendon in the Denman Chase.

“He’s the highest-rated chaser in England at the moment, and deserves to be so.

Colin Tizzard Stable Visit
Joe Tizzard retains faith in Lostintranslation (David Davies/PA)

“The main thing, for the two or three days after (Sandown), we were feeling his legs every day of the week. But they’re absolutely fine – there’s no sign of anything.

“There’s horses he’s taken on over the last few years that haven’t bounced back from meeting Native River – I think that’s testament to the horse.

“His worst placing, in 20 runs over fences, is fourth – which was in a Gold Cup. That just shows how good a horse he is.”

Lostintranslation has failed to produce a telling effort at the finish in four of his last five races.

Tizzard said: “It hasn’t been straightforward since the Betfair last year.

“He disappointed in the (2019) King George, but then bounced back with a fantastic run in the Gold Cup last year.

“Then this year, it just hasn’t quite happened – for no particular reason.”

Lostintranslation broke a blood vessel when pulled up in the King George for the second successive season, and has since faded to be a distant fifth and last on his only subsequent start at Newbury.

“In the Denman last weekend, I actually think that was purely down to fitness,” added Tizzard.

“We checked he hadn’t bled again, and he hadn’t.

“He blew very hard. He’s a big, gross horse who hasn’t had a race properly since the Gold Cup last year.

“He went up to Haydock (for the Betfair), and hated the ground. Robbie (Power) was easy on him – and he bled after a couple of miles in the King George.

“We were very keen to get another run into him, and I think it has sharpened him up a treat.

“We need to improve on what he’s shown on the track, but I think he’s a horse who goes well in the spring – and I think he’s certainly going in the right direction.”

Rose blooms as Tizzard returns to winning ways at Wincanton

Colin Tizzard’s underwhelming season showed chrysalis-like signs of a much-needed late blossom with Rose Of Arcadia’s triumph in the EBF Mares’ ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle at Wincanton.

Tizzard and his son and assistant Joe have seen several of their team run into the money over the past month, but were still without a victory since December.

Rose Of Arcadia, sent off the 5-6 favourite, put that right with a narrow success – which may yet be a portent of better to come in the remaining weeks leading up to Cheltenham.

Under Jonjo O’Neill Jr, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned six-year-old always travelled best in the heavy ground and stuck on gamely to repel the strong challenge of Fable by a neck.

Joe Tizzard confirmed the winner will be an intended runner in the series final at Newbury.

“Jonjo said she was doing too much, and that she must have a big engine,” he said.

“She had a wind op after Ffos Las, and ran well last time in a race that looks strong form. All being well, she’ll have another (run) before heading to Newbury.”

Paul Nicholls appears to have an exciting prospect in Lucky One, who outclassed his rivals with an impressive display from the front under Harry Cobden in the Southwest Syndicate Novices’ Hurdle – the first leg of a double for trainer and jockey.

The almost black gelding came home 20 lengths and 19 clear of fellow 5-4 joint-favourite Natural History and Lilly Pedlar, prompting Nicholls to predict big things from him as a future chaser.

“He used to pull himself into submission, but then settled at Southwell since when we’ve done a lot of work on him,” he said.

“If he consents to settle he’ll be some chaser next season. He’s going to be a good horse if we keep him right.

“I might look at a race up at Kelso or wait for Aintree in the spring. He’ll go in any ground.”

Harry Cobden guides Sametegal to victory
Harry Cobden guides Sametegal to victory (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Nicholls and Cobden went on to complete their double when Sametegal posted his first victory in almost five years, the 6-5 favourite repelling Porlock Bay by a hard-fought half-length in the Stewart Tory Memorial Open Hunters’ Chase.

Nicholls said: “He hasn’t won for five years, but he has been running consistently. I opted to go hunter chasing and his aim will be Aintree as he is good around there.

“He was brilliant at the last today. He never finishes strongly, but it was great to get his head in front.”

Numitor and Tom Scudamore clear the last to win the Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Novices’ Handicap Chase at Wincanton
Numitor and Tom Scudamore clear the last to win the Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Novices’ Handicap Chase at Wincanton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Numitor is proving a captain of industry for trainer Heather Main and her husband James, and the giant grey made light of 11st 12lb to power home in the Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Measuring 17.3 hands, he crossed the line six lengths and a length-and-a-quarter clear of Jackson Hill and Dublin Four, under Tom Scudamore.

James Main said: “We’ve been very patient with him, and I think there’s improvement in him yet. He has no problem handling that ground.”

Jonjo O’Neill’s flurry of good form continued with Time To Get Up’s win in the Dick Hunt Handicap Chase, giving the trainer’s son his 50th winner of the season.

Time To Get Up completed a double for Jonjo O’Neill Jr with victory in the feature Dick Hunt Handicap Chase at Wincanton
Time To Get Up completed a double for jockey Jonjo O’Neill Jr with victory in the feature Dick Hunt Handicap Chase at Wincanton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The 10-1 shot jumped past eventual runner-up Shanty Alley at the second-last and pulled clear in the manner of an improving stayer to back up the yard’s 100-1 double at Warwick the previous day.

O’Neill Jr said: “He’s a fine, big chasing type – and although by Presenting, loves the easy ground. He’s a nice prospect to look forward to.”

The Johnny Farrelly-trained And The New benefited from Jordan Nailor’s fine ride from the front in the Watch Race Replays At Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle – providing his rider with a 40th career success.

Lostintranslation back ‘in good nick’ for Gold Cup prep run

Lostintranslation is back in full health and on course for another run before bidding again to win the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup next month.

Colin Tizzard’s nine-year-old was third in the Festival showpiece last season but has run poorly in his two appearances this term, and was found to have burst a blood vessel when pulled up in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

Tizzard’s son and assistant Joe reports, however, that the dual Grade One winner has recovered well and will run this month – either in Newbury’s Denman Chase or the Ascot Chase.

Speaking after the yard’s first winner since December, in the opening race at Wincanton, Tizzard said: “In the last couple of weeks the horses have been performing to their standard without winning, so it’s nice to get one on the board with Rose Of Arcadia today.”

Lostintranslation is among a number of horses who have performed below expectations for the yard this season.

Tizzard added: “We found a couple of things wrong with them – something that was going round in the air, and their mineral levels weren’t quite right – but I do think we are heading in the right direction.

“Hopefully, this is the start of better things for us.

“Lostintranslation had a little bleed in the King George but is in good nick now. He will go for the Denman Chase, all being well – and if we think the ground isn’t suitable, then we would wait for the trial at Ascot.”

Native River, hero of the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup, will run in Saturday’s rescheduled Cotswold Chase at Sandown – while The Big Breakaway will be in action the same day in Wetherby’s William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase, as long as that race is given the go-ahead after an inspection of the course on Friday morning.

“Native River is all set for Sandown,” said Tizzard.

“He’s in lovely form, and I don’t see why the track won’t suit him.

“It’s fantastic that we’re looking at running because Newbury (the Denman Chase) would have been closer to the Gold Cup than ideal.

“The Big Breakaway has, I feel, learned a lot from his run at Kempton (second in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase) and has come out of it well.

The Big Breakaway won on his chasing debut at Cheltenham in November
The Big Breakaway won on his chasing debut at Cheltenham in November (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He certainly had to show he could jump, and we’ve declared him for Wetherby on Saturday.”

Should Wetherby’s chases fall to the weather, however, the Tizzards have a contingency in place.

“In that case, he would divert to the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot in two weeks,” he added.

“We would like to give him another (run) ahead of the Festival.”

Wetherby plans for The Big Breakaway

The Big Breakaway will continue his preparations for a return to the Cheltenham Festival in the William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby.

Connections of the Colin Tizzard-trained six-year-old, who finished fourth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s Festival, have earmarked the three-mile Grade Two contest on February 6 as his next target.

After making a winning debut over fences at Cheltenham, The Big Breakaway suffered an odds-on defeat at Exeter, before filling the runner-up spot in the Grade One Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “The plan at the moment is to take The Big Breakaway to Wetherby next month for the Towton.

“He has only had three runs over fences and this is a Grade Two which is quite good timing-wise before the Festival.

“We can’t drop him back and do what we did at Exeter as we have got to take him to a decent enough race where he will get a tow along.”

Reserve Tank could make his return to action back over hurdles (Nigel French/PA)
Reserve Tank could make his return to action back over hurdles (Nigel French/PA)

Dual Grade One winner Reserve Tank, who has not been sighted since pulling up in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Festival in March, could revert back to hurdles on his return from injury.

Tizzard said: “He got a leg injury after Cheltenham and we are hoping to get a prep run in before going back to the Festival.

“He has been in the whole way through, but he is now in full training. With an injury like he had it just needed time.

“He might run in a Pertemps qualifier at Huntingdon in the middle of February, but we will just see where we are with him.”

While a second outing at the Festival remains on the agenda for Reserve Tank, he could sidestep the meeting if he is not ready in time.

Tizzard added: “We are hopeful of having a nice spring campaign. We have just got to do what is right for the horse as he has had this injury.

“If he doesn’t make Cheltenham we could wait to Aintree, as we know he has good form there.”

Denman Chase is Lostintranslation’s new target

Lostintranslation will be eased in class in a bid to get his career back on track as connections earmarked the Denman Chase at Newbury as his next target.

Last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup third is to be aimed at the three-mile Grade Two prize on February 13, after failing to fire in two starts at the highest level this campaign.

The Colin Tizzard-trained eight-year-old pulled up for the second year running in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, having previously finished a distant third in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on his return this season.

Joe Tizzard, son and assistant, said: “Lostintranslation burst a blood vessel in the King George, which was reported. There is normally something underlying when they break a blood vessel, because it puts them under pressure.

“He will have his flu jab now and we will try and get him right for the Denman.

“We want to get another spin into him, and he loves it around Newbury, and the ground at that time of year is usually decent.”

Lostintranslation, who is a general 25-1 chance for the Gold Cup, has plenty to prove following two below par runs – but Tizzard remains confident he can turn a corner.

He added: “Plenty of horses have bled and then go and run well afterwards.

“He has never done that at home or anything. But horses bleed from time to time, and we have just got to get him back.

“He hasn’t performed the last twice and he needs to bounce back, but it’s certainly possible that he can.”

Joe Tizzard was pleased with how Lostintranslation was travelling until bursting a blood vessel at Kempton (David Davies/PA Images)
Joe Tizzard was pleased with how Lostintranslation was travelling until bursting a blood vessel at Kempton (David Davies/PA Images)

Tizzard thought the dual Grade One winner was going well in the King George until meeting with his setback.

He added: “He was travelling beautifully for the first circuit and he was exactly where he wanted to be.

“With Frodon going slightly left, he was having a beautiful run down the inside. He then suddenly cut out, but that is what a little bleed does. ”

The Big Breakaway will form part of trainer Colin Tizzard's Cheltenham Festival team (Alan Crowhurst/PA Images)
The Big Breakaway will form part of trainer Colin Tizzard’s Cheltenham Festival team (Alan Crowhurst/PA Images)

The plan for the yard’s The Big Breakaway, meanwhile, is to work back from what was known as the RSA at the Festival.

The five-year-old finished second on his return to Grade One company in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton.

Tizzard said: “The Big Breakaway had his flu jab yesterday, and I definitely think he will be going for what was the RSA.

“I think it was hell of a performance at Kempton, and I think he will have learnt more from that run than he would have learnt in his whole life.

“(Winner) Shan Blue was very impressive over that track and trip, but I think Cheltenham will suit us better. He has come out of Kempton well. ”

The Big Breakaway, who suffered an odds-on defeat on his penultimate start at Exeter, is likely to have another run between now and the Festival – but when that will be remains to be decided.

Tizzard added: “We’ve had three runs but we will probably look to give him another run before Cheltenham.

“We would hate to go back to a little race and have what happened at Exeter, so we would need a half decent race.

“He won’t run until the end of January or early February, because that is the last chance before Cheltenham.”

Cotswold Chase mission on the agenda for Native River

Native River will continue his preparations for a fourth outing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup by returning to the track next month in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase.

The 2018 Gold Cup winner is being readied by Colin Tizzard to tackle the Grade Two prize on January 30, in preference to the following month’s Denman Chase at Newbury, which he has won three times in the past four seasons.

Having been forced to miss this year’s Gold Cup with injury, Native River made a satisfactory return to action when finishing third in the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, which he had claimed 12 months earlier.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “He is a fantastic jumper and he jumped brilliantly throughout the race at Aintree.

“They took the fences out up the home straight which wouldn’t have helped, but Dicky (Richard Johnson) said they weren’t able to see a great deal (because of low sun).

“He had every chance bypassing what would have been the last though. He has come out of the race well and the plan is to have a go at the Cotswold Chase before having a crack at the Gold Cup.

“He just got jarred up in the Denman last season as it went a bit quick for him and it could do that again, so we thought we would go for the Cotswold instead as he needs that cut in the ground.”

Though Native River, who is a general 33-1 shot for the Gold Cup, will turn 11 on January 1, Tizzard junior believes he could still have a major say if conditions are in his favour.

He said: “He was two out of two last season and ran a blinder on his comeback this season. He has still got plenty of ability.

“If the ground came up in his favour at Cheltenham we know he is a solid performer, especially around there.”

Thistlecrack was forced to miss his intended return to action at Ascot on Saturday after meeting with a small setback (Julian Herbert/PA)
Thistlecrack was forced to miss his intended return to action at Ascot on Saturday after meeting with a small setback (Julian Herbert/PA)

Plans remain fluid for multiple Grade One winner Thistlecrack, who was ruled out of making his first start in over a year in the Porsche Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday after being reported to be lame.

Tizzard added: “No decision has been made either way with Thistlecrack as to whether to keep on racing him or retire him.

“The ground wouldn’t have stopped us going to Ascot, he was just a bit sore on Saturday morning and wasn’t quite 100 per cent which was a shame.

“We want to just get him right over the Christmas and new year period before we make any decisions.”

Tizzard retains faith in Lostintranslation

Joe Tizzard believes Lostintranslation can show his true colours in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Lostintranslation disappointed in the Christmas showpiece last year, and more recently also put in an under-par run when attempting to repeat last year’s victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.

However, the eight-year-old is giving the right signals again at home as he prepares for Kempton next week.

“The only real worry is if the ground goes too soft, because Lostintranslation has shown he cannot handle testing conditions,” said Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father Colin.

“He certainly seems a much better horse at home at the moment.

“He did a cracking piece of work on Tuesday morning, and fingers crossed the ground hasn’t been too bad at Kempton yet this season. If it can handle the bit of rain coming through the next couple of days then the forecast doesn’t look too bad leading up to next week.”

Lostintranslation was beaten almost 50 lengths into third at Haydock last month – with Clan Des Obeaux, set to re-oppose in pursuit of his King George hat-trick, a long way in front of him in second that day.

Tizzard said: “The only concern is we’re coming off the back of a bad run – but he had to go into the Gold Cup (in which he was a close third) on the back of a bad run last season as well.

“I think the horse has proved his ability enough now that if we can get him right and on his A game he can be very competitive in these races.

“We’re not worried about the track at Kempton, because in the past he’s shown plenty of pace.

“We’re happy with where he is, but he has to bounce back from last time. He’s done it before, and we’re happy with where he is at the moment.”

Tizzard added in a zoom call for the Ladbrokes Christmas Festival that he fears the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Clan Des Obeaux and Charlie Hall Chase winner Cyrname.

Dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux will be among the opposition for Lostintranslation at Kempton
Dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux will be among the opposition for Lostintranslation at Kempton (Steven Paston/PA)

“I can see it cutting up to being five or six runners again, but it’s as competitive as ever,” he said.

“Clan Des Obeaux did nothing wrong at Haydock. He travelled like the winner and just got beaten by Bristol De Mai in his own backyard. He (the winner) has proven time and time again he loves Haydock on that ground.

“Seeing Cyrname do what he did at Wetherby proves he’s right back to his brilliant best as well.

“They are the two main ones to beat in there. Paul Nicholls is saying he can’t split them, and we’ve all got to go a bit to take them on.”

The Tizzards have their eye on the other three-mile Grade One on the Boxing Day card, the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, with The Big Breakaway.

Like Lostintranslation, The Big Breakaway has to a point to prove after being turned over at long odds-on at Exeter.

“Initially when he was beat at 2-9 it was very disappointing – but when we looked back they had just hack-cantered round,” said Tizzard.

“(Jockey) Robbie (Power) was having to do all his own donkey work.

“It was only the horse’s fifth run for us, so we’re learning all the time. We tried to get some more experience into him, and we got caught out a little bit.

“We’ve talked about putting headgear and cheekpieces on him. But Robbie said we don’t need to yet, let’s run him in a better race and we won’t be making the running. Let’s do that first.

“Don’t write him off.”

Tizzard is confident going back up to three miles can only be a plus and that The Big Breakaway can go all the way to the top.

“The idea of dropping him back in trip was to try to sharpen him up – because even at Cheltenham (on his successful chasing debut) he found things too easy,” he added.

“But it backfired on us. I’m sure three miles is his trip.

“He’s proved he got three miles at Cheltenham, so I don’t think we’ll be dropping him back to two and a half miles again.

“He’s got stacks if ability. We’ve got some nice novices this year, but I think he’s right at the top of the tree.

“He’s horse that within a few runs has gained this big reputation. He is very exciting. He’s just got this one blip, and we hope we can put that behind us on Boxing Day.”

Thistlecrack could make return to action at Ascot next month

Popular veteran Thistlecrack could make his long-awaited return to action in next month’s Marsh Hurdle at Ascot.

The Grade One contest, which is better known as the Long Walk Hurdle, is under consideration for the Colin Tizzard-trained 12-year-old, who lifted the three mile-prize back in 2015.

Despite being in the twilight of his career, Thistlecrack showed plenty of his old ability on his sole start last season, finishing second in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “He is back in and loving life, but he is not quite ready to go yet. He is still so popular and is a real favourite in our yard.

“I think the Newbury race at the end of the month he finished second in last year is likely to come too soon as he was a bit later in.

“He might go to the Long Walk or something like that, but we just have to take it day by day with him.

Thistlecrack has not tasted victory since the last of his five Grade One victories in the 2016 King George VI Chase at Kempton – but Tizzard believes the John and Heather Snook-owned gelding still has plenty to offer.

He added: “He is not a horse that we will be putting pressure on to rush him as he is an old man and we will let him come to himself.

“He is doing everything right and is doing a lot of core fitness work on the gallops. He seems in lovely form at the moment.

“It’s only 12 months since he ran a blinder behind Paisley Park at Newbury, so the fire is still there.”

Copperhead remains on course to tackle the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Copperhead will switch back to chasing in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Copperhead remains on course for Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury later this month, despite failing to complete for the second race in succession on his comeback at Wetherby.

Having suffered a late fall when beaten in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the six-year-old turned in a below-par effort on his return after pulling up in the Grade Two West Yorkshire Hurdle.

Tizzard said: “We hoped he would do a Native River and finish in the first four or five at Wetherby then go for the Ladbrokes Trophy, but it didn’t quite work out like that and as a prep it wasn’t ideal.

“We were left scratching our heads as nothing really came to light. He has got to improve on that last run, but the Ladbrokes Trophy is still on the agenda and we have just under three weeks to get him there.”

Lostintranslation primed for Betfair Chase defence

Connections of Lostintranslation expect him to be firing on all cylinders as he tries to defend his Betfair Chase crown on his seasonal return at Haydock.

The eight-year-old will have his first start since finishing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as he bids to give trainer Colin Tizzard a fifth victory in the Grade One prize on November 21.

Lostintranslation had the benefit of a prep run before his Betfair Chase win last year, but the Tizzard team are confident he can still achieve the same result without a warm-up spin.

Joe Tizzard, son and assistant, said: “Lostintranslation is exactly where we want him to be. He has had little away day and a racecourse gallop, and we are happy going there first time out.

“Because he could run in an intermediate chase last year at Carlisle, we thought that was the perfect stepping stone for him.

“This year we knew all the way through the Betfair would be his first run, so we have him fit enough to go there and do himself justice at Haydock, because it is a big pot.

“We know he operates well around there, so it was always going to be the obvious starting point for him.”

Robbie Power is looking forward to getting back on board Lostintranslation (Anthony Devlin/PA Images)
Robbie Power is looking forward to getting back on board Lostintranslation (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Tizzard reports jockey Robbie Power to be equally as happy with Lostintranslation going into his first assignment of the season, having partnered him in both his racecourse gallop and a recent schooling session.

He added: “Robbie Power rode him in his gallop, and he schooled him last Wednesday and he will probably school him again tomorrow morning.

“Robbie can’t stop smiling when he gets off him, so that tells you plenty. He is very excited and he can’t wait to get back on board him.

“He is really pleased with where he is, and he is ticking all the right boxes.”

With Lostintranslation finding only Al Boum Photo and Santini too strong in last season’s Gold Cup, Tizzard believes a repeat of that display can see him mount another serious challenge in March.

Tizzard added: “He travelled well in the Gold Cup last year and jumped the last upsides them, before just getting beat.

“He will be much better for another year on his back, and if he runs like that again he will not be too far away.”

Joe Tizzard thrilled by ‘brilliant’ response to charity bike ride

Joe Tizzard has put his legs to the test to help raise more than £33,000 for charity after completing a 210-mile bike ride from Wiltshire to Land’s End in memory of his sister Kim Gingell.

The now-retired rider returned to a saddle of a different kind to take part in the event alongside Kim’s husband Dave Gingell, son Freddie and four close friends, to raise funds for Children with Cancer UK and Target Ovarian Cancer.

Kim, who was an integral part of her father, and leading National Hunt trainer Colin Tizzard’s operation behind the scenes, died following a short battle with cancer in May, aged 43.

Having expected to raise between £2,000 and £3,000 from the challenge, which took the septet three days to complete earlier this month, Tizzard has been overwhelmed by the response of those getting behind the event.

Colin Tizzard (left) with Native River, Kim Gingell (centre) with Thistlecrack and Joe Tizzard (right) with Elegant Escape (David Davies/PA Images)
Colin Tizzard (left) with Native River, Kim Gingell (centre) with Thistlecrack and Joe Tizzard (right) with Elegant Escape (David Davies/PA)

He said: “It was Kim’s son Freddie who came up with the idea of doing a cycle ride and we thought it would be a little one, but he wanted to go from their home in Zeals to Land’s End.

“We thought we would make a couple of thousand pounds, but the response has been brilliant and we’ve now raised over £33,000 for the two charities which is bonkers.

“We didn’t think for a second it was going to make what it has, but the support has been incredible. It really has been amazing, but it is for two good causes.”

Though the ride, which has received donations from the likes of jockeys Tom Scudamore and Jonjo O’Neill junior, and owners Simon Munir and Jon Romans, was challenging in places, Tizzard admits it was well worth all the effort.

He said: “The whole thing was good fun, as was the training, and as it was with Kim’s friends and family, she was was thought about throughout it.

“We were averaging about 15mph so we didn’t hang about, but there are some steep hills in Devon.

“We got fed up of seeing these lovely little rivers running through valleys with a little bridge because we knew the next bit was all uphill!”

Joe Tizzard and the team of cyclists who raised more than £33,000 in memory of his sister Kim Gingell
Theatre Guide, who was a personal favourite of Kim’s, will be looking to return to winning ways this season  for the Tizzard team (Julian Herbert/PA)

The Grade One-winning jockey hopes the yard can do Kim proud this season by celebrating their best-ever campaign.

He added: “Kim was a huge part of the team and we miss her every day as she would run the yard day-to-day, which was a big help to me and dad.

“Kim rode Theatre Guide for much of his career and he was a favourite of hers, so hopefully he can get his head in front at some stage this season.

“We have got to try to push without her and hopefully have an even better season than the last one for her.”

Anyone wishing to donate can do so by searching for Lower Zeals Farm to Land’s End on