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‘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.”

Clan Des Obeaux seeks Nicholls’ 10th Denman Chase success

Dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux is the star attraction in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury.

Trainer Paul Nicholls has saddled nine previous winners of Sunday’s Gold Cup trial, with Ditcheat greats Kauto Star (2007) and Denman himself (2008) both claiming victory en route to Cheltenham glory the following month.

Clan Des Obeaux, who won a rescheduled running of the Denman Chase at Ascot two years ago, is not even entered in the Gold Cup this season – with his dislike of Prestbury Park’s undulations well proven at this stage of his career.

The nine-year-old had to make do with minor honours in third when bidding for a hat-trick in the King George at Kempton on his latest appearance, but Nicholls hopes he can open his account for the campaign on a track where he is unbeaten in two starts.

He said: “Clan des Obeaux is in good form and he’s won this race before, when it was restaged two years ago at Ascot.

“There’s this thing that he’s better right-handed, but he’s run very well left-handed and has won at Newbury twice before. A flat track suits him nicely, so we won’t be complaining about that.

“His run at Haydock (when second in the Betfair Chase) was very good, and I think we can improve on Kempton.

“We’re in slightly calmer waters than his previous two at Haydock and Kempton, but this race has been the goal.”

Clan Des Obeaux (right) winning his first King George under Harry Cobden
Clan Des Obeaux (right) winning his first King George under Harry Cobden (Julian Herbert/PA)

Harry Cobden is back on board Clan Des Obeaux for the first time since finishing eighth in last season’s Gold Cup, and is looking forward to renewing the partnership.

“He’s in really good form at home. I schooled him earlier in the week, and he’s been working well,” said the jockey.

“He came out of the King George well and he’s in good form, (so) we’re hoping for a good run.”

Nicholls also runs Secret Investor, who was runner-up to Native River in this race 12 months ago.

Secret Investor joins stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in the Denman Chase
Secret Investor joins stablemate Clan Des Obeaux in the Denman Chase (Jeff Holmes/PA)

He added: “Secret Investor wouldn’t want the ground too soft. He’s a much better horse on spring ground and when he’s fresh.

“With his rating in the early 160s, it makes it hard for him in handicaps, so he’ll run as well.”

Clan Des Obeaux’s biggest threat appears to be the talented but difficult to predict Lostintranslation.

Colin Tizzard’s charge won last season’s Betfair Chase at Haydock before going on to finish a close-up third in the Gold Cup, but has failed to fire both at Haydock and in the King George this season.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard is hoping the combination of a recent wind operation and an upturn in stable form in recent weeks will lead to an improved performance this weekend.

“We had him in the Ascot Chase and the Denman this weekend, and the decision to run at Newbury is purely based on ground,” said Tizzard.

“Had it been nice ground we were actually quite keen on the Ascot race over two-miles-five around there.

“Newbury takes the rain well, and we’ve had a couple of dry-ish days there this week. The ground going to be good to soft/soft, which is what we want for him.

“We’re happy with him going into the race.”

Nicky Henderson’s Champ was due to take on Clan Des Obeaux and Lostintranslation in the Denman Chase last weekend, but the decision to put the meeting back eight days after the original fixture was lost to frost prompted a surprise change of plan.

The JP McManus-owned gelding will instead make his first competitive appearance since his last-gasp victory at last year’s Cheltenham Festival over an extended two miles in the Betfair Game Spirit Chase.

While connections acknowledge the trip is on the short side for a horse viewed as a legitimate Gold Cup contender, the Game Spirit is viewed as a more suitable comeback target – with the blue riband less than four weeks away.

The owner’s racing manager Frank Berry said: “Nicky is happy with him – and rather than give him a slog over three miles, Nicky thought that maybe running over two miles might sharpen his jumping.

“He’s had a few niggly problems that have held him up, but Nicky thinks he’s in good form, so we’ll see how we get on.”

Paul NichoGreaneteen takes on Champ in the Game Spirit lls Stable Visit
Greaneteen takes on Champ in the Game Spirit (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The likely favourite for the Grade Two contest is Nicholls’ Greaneteen, who was last seen filling the runner-up spot behind stable companion Politologue in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December.

“I think there is more to come, and next year he’ll be even better than he is now – he’s going to get better with experience,” said Nicholls.

“He’s in good shape and fit and ready to run very well.

“I don’t want to make the wrong decision and run him in the wrong race at Cheltenham, so this will be a good guide as to how much he’s improved and where we should end up going.”

The Ditcheat handler also runs Dolos and Magic Saint – while Alan King is represented by the high-class Sceau Royal, and Venetia Williams’ Fanion d’Estruval completes the sextet.

Gold Cup prep options open for Lostintranslation

Lostintranslation is likely to run at either Newbury or Ascot ahead of a second tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Third behind Al Boum Photo in last year’s renewal of the blue riband, Colin Tizzard’s charge has disappointed in two starts this season – finishing a well-beaten third in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, before being pulled up in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

With the Tizzard string showing signs of a revival, highlighted by the success of 2018 Gold Cup hero Native River at Sandown last weekend, hopes were high Lostintranslation could get back on track in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday – before it was rescheduled on Sunday February 21.

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

The high-profile meeting’s new slot was confirmed after a Friday morning inspection which found the ground frozen – and Lostintranslation could still make an appearance next Sunday, although the previous afternoon’s Betfair Ascot Chase is viewed as a viable alternative.

Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father, said on Thursday: “He’s in at Newbury and he’s also got an entry at Ascot, so he’ll run in one of them.

“We think he’s in quite good form and we’d quite like to get a run in before Cheltenham.

“He’ll go to Ascot or Newbury next weekend, one of the two.”

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.”

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.”

Henderson happy to take King George chance with Santini

Santini will seek to justify an entry that initially “wasn’t the plan at all” when he takes his place in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up was not considered for the Boxing Day highlight originally, and Nicky Henderson still has his doubts about whether three miles at Kempton Park will see his stout stayer to best effect.

However, such is Santini’s appetite for the game, Henderson feels he is ultimately best served by having a tilt at King George glory before bidding for back-to-back victories in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in late January.

The Seven Barrows trainer said: “We were monitoring the entries, we knew what they all were and we knew there wouldn’t be a million runners. We’ve got to finish fifth to cover the supplementary fee (£5,000).

“We’ve got to be positive and he’s in very good form, so we’re up for it. Richard Kelvin-Hughes (owner) is a sportsman.”

Santini had to settle for second spot behind Lake View Lad in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree earlier this month, a Grade Two contest in which nine fences were omitted due to low sun.

Henderson said: “Aintree wasn’t really a satisfactory race – if I wanted to run him in a bending race, I’d have sent him to the gymkhana!

“He did run a very good race, though. Last year he began in a graduation race at Sandown and was desperately unimpressive, but he wakes up for racing – you can’t work him enough.

“If we had to wait another month to run it would have been so boring for him. I hope he’ll be sharper than he was at Aintree, but my worry is the track, it’s not a big, galloping track for a big, galloping horse.

“It wasn’t the plan at all, but it’s something to do before the Cotswold Chase. The more you throw at him the better he is, and within two days he’ll be bucking and squealing again.”

The Colin Tizzard-trained Lostintranslation was well fancied for last year’s King George off the back of winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock, but never really travelled with much zest and was eventually pulled up by Robbie Power.

Lostintranslation is a top-class performer on his day
Lostintranslation is a top-class performer on his day (Anthony Devlin/PA)

He bounced back to his best to finish third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup – but again has something to prove on his return to Kempton after finishing tailed off in heavy ground at Haydock last month.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “We are quite happy with where he is and he is ready to run.

“The only thing that came out of Haydock was that it was really heavy ground and though he is a big horse, Robbie mentioned he has always been a horse better on better ground.

“There is a bit of rain due to go through Kempton, but the ground won’t be like it was at Haydock. The horse has schooled well since then and he is in good form and we are looking forward to running him.

“He has got some good horses to take on that have been in really good form, but he was only beaten a length and a half in the Gold Cup and he looked like he was travelling the best for a long way, so we know he is a very good horse.”

Waiting Patiently (right) returns from a lengthy absence
Waiting Patiently (right) returns from a lengthy absence (Julian Herbert/PA)

Waiting Patiently is an interesting contender for Ruth Jefferson as he makes his first competitive appearance since finishing a close-up third in the Tingle Creek at Sandown 12 months ago.

The Flemensfirth gelding has only tackled three miles once before, when unseating Brian Hughes in the 2018 King George.

Jefferson said: “We took him for an away-day because he hasn’t run for a little while and he seems to have come out of that well. We weren’t desperate to get a run in as he’s not a stuffy horse, and he doesn’t want a lot of racing, so we could have given him a prep run and that could have been it for the season!

“The horse is fine and the ground is fine. As far as the distance is concerned, who knows? We hope this will tell us a lot, although last time we tried three miles we learnt nothing.

“If we didn’t have a go we’d always be wondering, so we’ll try it and see how we go.”

Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados was last seen pushing Min all the way in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, having missed an intended prep run for the King George after suffering a setback.

“He is good fresh and we have done plenty of work with him at home. He was ready for the Betfair Chase, but he picked up that infection,” said Whittington.

“A King George first time out is not ideal, but with his rating (167), where else do we go?

“He is ticking all the boxes at home, so we will roll the dice.”

Black Op is no back number in the King George, according to his trainer Tom George
Black Op is no back number in the King George, according to his trainer Tom George (Simon Cooper/PA)

Black Op completes the nine-strong field – and his trainer Tom George suggests he is no forlorn hope.

“On face value you’d probably say he was up against it, but he’s run against some of these horses before and run well against them,” the Stroud handler told Sky Sports Racing.

“In the Hennessy (Ladbrokes Trophy), he didn’t quite see out the trip. He’s a Grade One winner over hurdles. He definitely warrants taking his chance and we came close to causing an upset with Double Shuffle a couple of years ago.

“He’s in good form, he’s a high-class horse. He wasn’t beaten far in the Grade One novice chase there last Christmas.

“He liked the track that day and is ready for a good run.”

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.”

King George remains on the agenda for Lostintranslation

The Ladbrokes King George VI Chase remains the next objective for Lostintranslation following his disappointing defence of his crown in the Betfair Chase.

Colin Tizzard’s stable star got the better of the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai to claim top honours at Haydock last year.

He subsequently failed to fire in the King George, but having bounced back to finish a close-up third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, the eight-year-old was the narrow favourite on his return to Merseyside for his seasonal reappearance.

However, with conditions much more testing than 12 months earlier, Robbie Power was sending out distress signals a long way from home and Lostintranslation ended up being beaten 47 lengths as Bristol De Mai saw off Clan Des Obeaux to seal a third Betfair Chase success.

Speaking on Monday, assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “He trotted up fine yesterday morning and has just been on the walker again today – there are no signs of any problems.

“Robbie has maintained for a few years now that he wants good ground. Dad and I thought he’d get away with softer ground a bit because he’s a big, strong horse, but it went completely heavy at Haydock on Saturday and he never travelled like he can.

“We shall make sure there is nothing else, but at the moment we’re just putting it down to the ground.”

Joe Tizzard with Lostintranslation
Joe Tizzard with Lostintranslation (David Davies/PA)

Tizzard confirmed the King George remains on the agenda, as long as the ground on Boxing Day is in his favour.

He added: “The King George is the plan. If it turned up heavy at Kempton we might have to rethink that a little bit, but that is certainly the plan at the moment.

“If the ground was very soft then we’d wait for better ground and the Denman Chase at Newbury (in February) or something.

“At the moment the King George will be his next race and we’ll work it out between now and then.”

Lostintranslation out to retain Betfair title

Colin Tizzard is confident Lostintranslation will put up a staunch defence of his crown in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.

The eight-year-old denied the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai a third successive victory in Saturday’s Merseyside showpiece when triumphing 12 months ago.

Lostintranslation badly fluffed his lines when well fancied for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, but bounced back to finish a close-up third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and renews rivalry with Bristol De Mai this weekend.

Tizzard said: “Lostintranslation is in great form. He is of course the defending champion, and we are looking forward to going back and hopefully winning the race again.”

The Flemensfirth gelding warmed up for last year’s victory with a pipe-opener at Carlisle – and while this time he has been off the track since the blue riband eight months ago, Tizzard is unconcerned.

He added: “He went for an away day, and we were really happy with the way he galloped. He also schooled last Wednesday morning, and I was delighted with what I saw.

“I really couldn’t be happier with him at home. That racecourse gallop will have done him the world of good, and the Betfair Chase can’t come soon enough.”

Bristol De Mai was only ninth in the Gold Cup on his latest appearance, but his regular partner Daryl Jacob expects him to make more of a race of it back at his beloved Haydock – where has won four of his five starts.

Bristol De Mai is bidding for a third Betfair Chase success
Bristol De Mai is bidding for a third Betfair Chase success (Clint Hughes/PA)

Jacob said: “I can’t wait to ride him. He’s been a wonderful horse for us, and this is another big day for him.

“He seems in really good form at home. I schooled him last week, and it’s all systems go.

“On ratings it’s going to be difficult to beat Lostintranslation and Clan Des Obeaux. But if they get a bit of rain it will suit me, and I’m very excited about riding him – I think he’s going there with a great chance again.”

Clan Des Obeaux was fourth behind Bristol De Mai in the 2018 Betfair Chase before going on to seal the first of his two victories in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

The Boxing Day highlight is again top of the eight-year-old’s agenda, but trainer Paul Nicholls is confident he can first make his presence felt this weekend.

He said: “He didn’t run at Haydock last year because he went to Down Royal, but he ran in it two years ago. It was his first time we put him into Grade One company, and he probably wasn’t fully wound up – this time he will be ready.

“He’s a big, strong horse who gallops and stays. His best form probably isn’t left-handed, but he has won at Haydock and loves the track as it is flatter than Cheltenham.

“He is just a proper horse who is probably at his peak now. I can’t explain it, but he just looks like a different horse (this season) – he is more athletic and stronger, and his work has been very good.

“He has schooled nicely and done lots of work. We’ve got him in really good shape this time because there is no point going into a race like this thinking he will need the run – there will be no excuses fitness-wise, as far as I can tell.”

Kauto Star was virtually unstoppable at Haydock
Kauto Star was virtually unstoppable at Haydock (Nigel French/PA)

Victory for Clan Des Obeaux would be a seventh in the race for Nicholls, who struck four times with the mighty Kauto Star and twice with Silviniaco Conti.

He said: “The Betfair Chase has been fantastic, especially with all the memories of Kauto Star.

“In particular, when Kauto Star won for the fourth time it was an amazing day. We felt incredibly lucky – and then along came Silviniaco Conti, who went on to win two Betfair Chases.

“It has been a very good race for us and is a race we really like.”

Bellshill is a multiple Grade One winner
Bellshill is a multiple Grade One winner (Brian Lawless/PA)

Bellshill landed the Punchestown Gold Cup and the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown when trained by Willie Mullins, but lost his form last season and would be a surprise winner on his stable debut for Berwickshire-based Sandy Thomson at the age of 10.

“Bellshill is in fine form, and we are looking forward to running,” said Thomson.

“He has been in great form since he came to me and enjoyed a racecourse gallop at Carlisle recently.

“We were delighted with that, and he would not be going to Haydock unless we thought he was going to do himself justice.”

The quintet is completed by Warren Greatrex’s outsider Keeper Hill, who is only runner with the benefit of a recent outing, having finished fourth in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby three weeks ago.

Betfair Chase Trends

Staged at Haydock Park racecourse the Betfair Chase Registered as the Lancashire Chase) is a Grade One race and is run over a slightly longer trip (3m1f). The contest is a fairly new one, being first run in 2005 and takes place in November each season.

Trainer Paul Nicholls has made the race his own, winning the decent prize 6 times in the last 12 years, including four times with Kauto Star, while in 2017 and 2018 we saw the popular grey Bristol De Mai land the pot twice and giving his trainer – Nigel Twiston-Davies – his third success in the contest. 12 months ago the Colin Tizzard camp fired in their fourth Betfair Chase winner when Lostintranslation beat Bristol De Mai.

Here at Geegeez we are on hand with all the key stats ahead of the 2020 renewal – this year run on Saturday November 21st 2020.

 

Recent Betfair Chase Winners

2019 - LOSTINTRANSLATION (5/4 fav)
2018 – BRISTOL DE MAI (13/2)
2017 – BRISTOL DE MAI (11/10 fav)
2016 – CUE CARD (15/8 fav)
2015 – CUE CARD (7/4)
2014 - SILVINIACO CONTI (10/3)
2013 – CUE CARD (9/1)
2012 – SILVINIACO CONTI (7/4)
2011 – KAUTO STAR (6/1)
2010 – IMPERIAL COMMANDER (10/11 fav)
2009 – KAUTO STAR (4/6 fav)
2008 – SNOOPY LOOPY (33/1)
2007 – KAUTO STAR (4/5 fav)
2006 – KAUTO STAR (11/10 fav)
2005 – KINGSCLIFF (8/1)

Key Betfair Chase Betting Trends

15 Previous runnings
13/15 - Won over at least 3m (fences) previously
12/15 - Raced within the last 4 weeks
12/15 – Won by and Irish (4) or French (8) bred horse
12/15 - Placed in the top three in their last race
12/15 - Won a Grade One chase previously
11/15 - Raced at Haydock previously
10/15 - Officially rating of 168 or higher
10/15 – Favourites placed
8/15 – Aged 8 or older
8/15 - Winning distance - 2 ½ lengths or less
7/15 - Raced at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall last time out
7/15 – Won by a previous winner of the race
7/15 – Winning favourites
6/15 – Won their latest race
4/15 - Raced at Aintree last time out
The average winning price in the last 15 runnings is 5/1
The Paul Nicholls yard has won the prize in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 & 2014
The Nigel Twiston-Davies yard has won the prize in 2010, 2017 and 2018 
The Colin Tizzard yard has won the race in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019

 

Nicholls confident in Clan stamina ahead of Betfair bid

Paul Nicholls is confident Clan Des Obeaux will have no problem getting the trip when he attempts to give the trainer a seventh Betfair Chase success at Haydock.

The eight-year-old will make his seasonal return in the Grade One prize, in which he finished fourth in two years ago, ahead of attempting to defend his Ladbrokes King George VI Chase crown at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Although Clan Des Obeaux is yet to win beyond three miles, the 11-times champion trainer expects him to have enough stamina to see out the extra furlong and a half on Merseyside.

Nicholls said: “He travels well and you could put him anywhere. You would want to reserve a little bit of stamina as it is three miles, one and a half furlongs.

“He has not won over that trip before, but I don’t think it is a problem – you just ride him accordingly and slot him in anywhere.

“Sam (Twiston-Davies) and Harry (Cobden) both said if the King George was three miles, one and a half last year, he would have still won, so I don’t think the trip is an issue.”

With stable jockey Cobden set to go to Ascot at the weekend, Clan Des Obeaux will be reunited with Twiston-Davies for the first time since the pair won last year’s King George VI Chase.

Nicholls added: “Sam Twiston-Davies came in to ride him this morning as he will ride him on Saturday, as Harry is going to Ascot and if Cyrname gets to Kempton, Harry will ride him.

“He jumped very well this morning. He was very fresh and I was very happy with him.

“Sam won the King George on him last year and it’s easier for him to ride him Saturday, so it works out well like that.”

Nicholls had considered giving Clan Des Obeaux an alternative entry in the Grade Two Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase at Ascot on Saturday, but with the ground at Haydock not set to be testing, all roads will lead there.

Nicholls said: “If they had forecast torrents of rain at the end of the week and you ended up with Haydock being very heavy, I was thinking of putting him in at Ascot to cover my options.

“If the going at Haydock is as it is now, he will definitely run there. The forecast looks encouraging and there is no cold weather, so it’s all systems go.”

Lostintranslation is the rival trainer Paul Nicholls fears the most (Anthony Devlin/PA Images)
Lostintranslation is the rival trainer Paul Nicholls fears the most (Anthony Devlin/PA Images)

Assessing the potential opposition, Nicholls believes last year’s winner, and Gold Cup third, Lostintranslation represents the biggest danger to stopping Clan Des Obeaux from adding a third Grade One victory to his CV.

He added: “Lostintranslation looks to be the main one. The Tizzards are running into some form now.

“Though he was disappointing in the King George he won this race very nicely last year and he would probably be the one to beat.

Bristol De Mai is a dual Betfair Chase winner
Bristol De Mai is a dual Betfair Chase winner (Clint Hughes/PA)

“Bristol De Mai has been a fantastic horse over the years and we’ve had some real old battles, but he isn’t getting any younger, although he always runs very well at that track. If he came back to his very best, he is always a danger.

“We’ve set out to try to win this race and not go there as prep to Kempton. He has got a big chance at the weekend.”

Bellshill and Keeper Hill complete the five entries for the race.

Lostintranslation and Bristol De Mai set to meet again

Lostintranslation and Bristol De Mai are set to meet again in the Betfair Chase at Haydock – for which only a maximum field of five is possible.

There were 10 entries initially, with three taken out before Monday’s confirmations, and Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard and Nicky Henderson’s Santini will also miss Saturday’s contest.

Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation got the better of Bristol De Mai 12 months ago in what turned into a terrific duel in the Haydock straight.

It was a rare reversal at Haydock for Bristol De Mai, who had won the two previous renewals for Nigel Twiston-Davies.

The third top-class contender is Paul Nicholls’ Clan Des Obeaux, a dual winner of the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Having failed to see out the Gold Cup trip in March, Boxing Day is once more his main objective this season.

The Sandy Thomson-trained Bellshill, a Grade One winner back in his days with Willie Mullins, and Warren Greatrex’s Keeper Hill complete the list.

The sponsors make last year’s winner their 5-4 favourite.

“It’s shaping up to be a cracking 16th renewal of the iconic race,” said Betfair’s Barry Orr.

“Lostintranslation and Bristol De Mai couldn’t be separated in the market last year – but this time around the 2019 winner is clear favourite at 5-4, while the two-time winner Bristol De Mai is 7-4.

“Dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux is sure to have plenty of backers – with his trainer Paul Nicholls sounding very positive about his chances – and he looks a bit of value at 3-1.”

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.”