Tag Archive for: Thistlecrack

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.”

Thistlecrack poised to return in Long Walk Hurdle

Thistlecrack is likely to try to bridge a five-year gap and win the Porsche Long Walk Hurdle for a second time at Ascot on Saturday.

It was back in 2015 when Colin Tizzard’s highly-talented performer took the Group One staying prize, denying Reve De Sivola a fourth consecutive win in the race.

Thistlecrack went on to land the World Hurdle that season before switching to chasing and winning the King George at Kempton at Christmas 2016.

He has had his problems since then and his last race came over the smaller obstacles in the 2019 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury. where he was only beaten a length by Paisley Park.

That was a year ago and Tizzard reports the 12-year-old to be in rude health and ready to return the fray.

“He had a racecourse gallop last week. He’s in cracking form so, as long as all goes right this week, we’ll have a go,” said the Dorset handler.

“He didn’t start racing until he was seven so he’s not an old man in that respect. We’ll give him a run and see where we are.

“He’s had an away day and he’s done a lot of work. Hopefully by the end of the week we’ll get all the green lights and we can go.”

Paisley Park is also among a list of 14 confirmed for the Long Walk at the five-day stage.

Emma Lavelle’s class performer took this Grade One prize in 2018 on the way to winning the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham the following March.

Disappointing in last season’s Stayers’ Hurdle, Paisley Park made an encouraging comeback when second to Thyme Hill in this year’s Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month.

Thyme Hill got the better of Paisley Park at Newbury last month
Thyme Hill got the better of Paisley Park at Newbury last month (Nigel French/PA)

The Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old is among his potential opposition along with a three previous winner of this race, The Worlds End (2019). He took advantage of Paisley Park’s late withdrawal due to the heavy ground.

Dan Skelton has targeted this race for Roksana since her victory in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby.

“I was delighted with her at Wetherby,” said the Alcester handler.

“She went back to her owners for a little while just to recharge her batteries really so she could come back the best she could be.

“I’m really happy with her and she looks fantastic. The lad who rides her out every day says she feels as good as she could.

“We are going to take on the front two from Newbury which is the next level. They have got to give seven pounds to her and over three miles in what is likely to be soft ground that will be telling.

“I never had any intention of going to Newbury. The plan was always to go to Wetherby then to Ascot. It is going to be a good race.”

Gordon Elliott’s Sire Du Berlais and the Ronan McNally-trained The Jam Man are the two Irish-trained possibles, while David Pipe could take the plunge with the prolific Main Fact, winner of his last nine races.

Completing the list are Lil Rockerfeller, Portrush Ted, Third Wind, Thomas Darby and Younevercall.

Kildisart also holds an entry in the Ascot Silver Cup Handicap Chase on the same card.

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.”

Colin Tizzard: Best of the rest

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard nominates eight to follow from the Milbourne Port stable away from his big guns:

Christmas In April

“Dad said to me about the Grand National. He has crept up all the way through and if he keeps going he is only five or six pound off being a Grand National horse. A tilt at the Welsh National could be his first real aim. Extreme trips play into his hands.”

Eldorado Allen

“He has got no mileage on the clock as it hasn’t quite happened for him yet, but he is a seriously talented horse and I’m looking forward to going novice chasing with him. He had those couple of runs in the second half of last season and he has had a real good summer.”

Elixir De Nutz

“We were hoping he would be a Champion Hurdle horse last season. He will go chasing now and he wants a fence to get him to settle. You won’t see him being launched into the deep end to start with as we want to try and build his confidence up.”

Harry Senior

“He was a Grade Two winner round Cheltenham last season and he progressed all season. He is a much stronger horse this year. He has jumped for fun over fences when we schooled him over them. You never know how much he will improve for a fence, but he has schooled well and won a point-to-point so he is an exciting horse.”

Rose Of Arcadia

“She is a very talented mare and she would have gone to Aintree where I think she would have nearly won the mares’ bumper there. She has schooled well and all being well she will end up in the mares’ novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham as she is a very smart filly. We think she is as good a mare as we’ve had in training and we are excited about her.”

Seymour Promise

“I think he will be a nice novice hurdler this season. He was fourth in a nice bumper around Kempton in his race so far. He might go to the Listed bumper at Cheltenham first time out then go over hurdles. He is quite a sharp little horse that I think is quite a nice sort.”

Slate House

“He is being aimed at the Ladbrokes Trophy and will probably go to the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby first. In the Cotswold Chase he was wrong and then it didn’t quite happen at Cheltenham, but he had a hard season. As he went through the season it looked like he was crying out for a trip as well. He is the sort of horse that can switch off and travel in behind and the track at Newbury will suit him.”

Thistlecrack

“Physically he looks as good as ever. I would imagine we will stay over hurdles, but we will take it day-by-day with him. He showed a lot at Newbury last year and that is good enough form to suggest he can win a race like that. One of those long-distance hurdles leading up to Cheltenham he could easily run well in.”