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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’.”

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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.”

The Big Breakaway heads straight to Cheltenham

The Big Breakaway will head straight to the Cheltenham Festival, with connections deciding to swerve the Bateaux London Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot.

Colin Tizzard’s youngster had first been pencilled in for the Towton at Wetherby two weeks ago – but when that meeting was lost to the weather he was rerouted to Ascot’s Grade Two on Saturday.

However, with the ground set to be testing, it was felt he would be better heading directly to the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at next month’s Festival.

“It’s purely ground related – we didn’t want to bottom him,” said assistant trainer Joe Tizzard.

“If it had been slightly better ground we’d have run.

“We’re just wary of three miles on soft to heavy ground, and we didn’t fancy it.

“We got three runs into him in the first half of the season – and not running this weekend gives the option of going to Cheltenham, Aintree, and we could even think about Punchestown.

“Had we run this weekend it might have left a mark, and we wouldn’t have been able to think about all three, so we’re giving him a chance.”

Were The Big Breakaway to have run this weekend, Robbie Power would have travelled from Ireland to ride him again – following another change in the rulings concerning jockeys moving between the two countries.

“Robbie can come over for Graded days, so he’s over for Lostintranslation for the Denman (at Newbury on Sunday), and he would have been over on Saturday if we needed him,” added Tizzard.

“It changes a fair bit, Robbie knows what is what, though, so I just ring him and ask if he can come – and he tells me yes or no.

“Obviously it’s nice to have Robbie, but Jonjo (O’Neill) and Harry (Cobden) would have slotted in for the rides anyway.”

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.”

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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.”

The Big Breakaway meets with Exeter defeat

The Big Breakaway met with a shock defeat in the Download The tote Placepot App Novices’ Chase at Exeter as he had no answer to Bold Plan.

Colin Tizzard’s The Big Breakaway was the prohibitive 2-9 favourite having made a seamless transition to chasing at Cheltenham first time out this season.

Sent to Exeter for more experience before stepping up in class, with the bonus of picking up the best part of £20,000 into the bargain, Robbie Power was having to drive him into several early fences.

Lethargic at times, Sean Bowen was able to stealthily stalk the favourite on Bold Plan – winner of a good prize over hurdles at Haydock just over a year ago – and he always looked likely to have too much pace in the straight.

When The Big Breakaway got in tight to the last, Bold Plan jumped into an advantage and had no trouble in running out a length and a half winner to break a rather lean spell for his trainer Evan Williams.

Betfair eased The Big Breakaway out to 14-1 from 8s for the three-mile novice chase at Cheltenham, while the winner was introduced into the betting for the Marsh Chase at 33-1 by Paddy Power.

Williams – who quickly followed up with a Grade Two strike at Sandown courtesy of the impressive Star Gate – said of the winner: “We were taking on the second horse on our terms really as I don’t think he’s a two-and-a-half-miler.

“Strictly speaking it was a muddle of a race, but our little fella does have a good turn of foot while the second horse is more of a galloper.

“I don’t really see him as a graded horse, but in saying that he did win a very good handicap at Haydock over hurdles.

“I think with our horse he’s very good on his day, but his days are very in and out is what I’ll say. When he’s good, he’s very good.”

Breakaway makes Big impression on chasing debut at Cheltenham

The Big Breakaway put in an almost perfect round of jumping to make a winning debut over fences in the mallardjewellers.com Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

Last seen when finishing fourth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival in March, the Colin Tizzard-trained five-year-old returned to winning ways with an exemplary performance.

Racing in the front pair throughout the extended three-mile prize, the 4-9 favourite always looked in control before taking lengths out of his rivals at the third last.

With The Butcher Said making a costly error when mounting a challenge at the penultimate fence, it left The Big Breakaway only needing to be pushed out from the back of the last to defeat fellow chasing debutant Doc Penfro by 10 lengths.

Joe Tizzard, son and assistant trainer, said: “I’m chuffed to bits with him. He travelled and jumped really well. He was foot perfect, but he has been since day one and, if anything, he jumped too well today. You can’t fault him though, as he did everything we asked him.

“He found it a little bit too easy over that trip. He had a little bit of a think going away from the stands and Robbie (Power, jockey) said he wouldn’t mind dropping him back to two and a half (miles) to sharpen everything up. That’s food for thought.

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“It was a lovely performance to come here and jump like that first time out. He only had three runs last year and won a point-to-point, so it was greenness more than anything (needing to pushed momentarily).”

Assessing future targets, Tizzard earmarked an outing in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton as a possible target for The Big Breakaway, who was cut from 20-1 into 12-1 for the three-mile novices’ chase at the Festival by both Coral and Paddy Power.

He added: “That would seem the obvious target in my mind (Kauto Star). We will have a look at the calendar and think about it. It’s five or six weeks away and it seems to tie in perfectly. He probably wants a couple of runs between now and the Festival to make sure it doesn’t happen too easily.”

Alex Hales celebrated the biggest winner of his career after For Pleasure ground his rivals into submission in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle.

Having almost run out in a Listed race at Kempton on his previous start, the five-year-old was not for stopping out in front in the Grade Two contest.

Although favourite Third Time Lucki appeared to come with a well-timed challenge approaching the last, he could not get past the 14-1 shot, with three and three-quarter lengths separating the pair at the line.

Hales said: “I’ve been training 20 years and this is only my second winner here. We are a small operation and it means an awful lot for everybody.

“We went to Kempton to try to win the Listed novice and he behaved abysmally. To come here with that behind us, you are slightly crossed fingers is that going to happen again, but obviously left handed is the way he goes.

“There is no other way to ride him but let him go out in front. I was impressed he kept up that gallop and still came up the hill. He is not straightforward and Harry (Bannister) has done a brilliant job with him.”

Ramses De Teillee (11-2) demonstrated the best of his battling abilities when getting the better of Yala Enki by a short head in the Grade Three Planteur At Chapel Stud Handicap Chase.

Winning trainer David Pipe, speaking away from the track, said: “He has been a brilliant horse for us and his owners over the last few years, over hurdles and fences. Both the horse and jockey (Tom Scudamore) have been brave today.

“I said to John (White) and Anne (Underhill, owners) he will be hard to place this season and hard to win with, but hopefully we can nick a bit of prize money along the way.
“I was looking at veteran races for him the other day, but I realised he is only eight, however it feels like he has been around for years.

“He may go to the Becher or the Welsh National, it will be those types of races we look at. He is likely to go up in the weights, but I don’t mind as he has won one.”

Former Gold Cup-winning jockey Sam Thomas saddled his first Cheltenham winner as a trainer as Good Risk At All prevailed by a length and a half in the Listed High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Thomas said of the 13-2 shot: “It’s testament to all the hard work the team is doing at home. It’s things we can only dream of, coming here and winning a Listed bumper like that.

“I nearly didn’t run him as I felt he has got such a turn of foot, but I’m delighted I left him in. Sam (Twiston-Davies) said he will be a lot better on better ground, but we got away with it today.”