Golden Chieftain was a second big priced winner at the Festival for Tizzard, who had sent out stable star Cue Card to win the Bumper at 40/1 three years ago. Yesterday’s win was something of a surprise for the Somerset trainer, who said, "It all went to plan. We were half-worried he wouldn't get the trip - we didn't even know he was good enough to win a handicap at Cheltenham like this.”
The ride was a special one for jockey Brendan Powell, whose three-pound claim helped him to a 10-length victory. It was Powell’s first taste of the Festival winner’s enclosure, and after the race he said, "It's unbelievable - it hasn't sunk in. "Everything that could have gone right did. He is a very classy horse and, in fairness to him, he probably was well handicapped. Things haven't gone right for him in the past, but he travelled superb and jumped brilliant and everything just clicked.”
Powell might not have had the ride had Golden Chieftain been Tizzard’s only runner in the race, but the trainer’s son was on board Hey Big Spender. He was unaware the winner had a place in the race, as the winning jockey explained. "I phoned up Joe last night asking for a lift to Cheltenham and he asked me what rides I had. He didn't realise Golden Chieftain had got in, but thank goodness he did." Tizzard snr, though, would have been reluctant to put his son up, as it would have meant Golden Chieftain carrying at least one pound overweight.
The trainer was full of praise for the teenager, saying, "Brendan has been good for a long time now, but he's getting better all the time. He's a cool boy, he's always in the right position and he listens. It's super when it all works out."
A couple of hours later it almost all worked out again, as Joe Tizzard and Ohio Gold were in the lead as the 12 runners left in the day’s final race approached the final fence. This time the horse was unable to pull away from his rivals, and the team had to settle for a place, nine lengths behind Rajdhani Express and outsider Ackertac.
The satisfied trainer had said last week when saddling a winner at Wincanton, “The pressure’s on, isn’t it? No matter what people say, Cheltenham is important.” With such a successful first day he’s probably cranked the pressure up some more, and has certainly confirmed that his string has arrived at Cheltenham in top shape. That’s good news for supporters of the aforementioned Cue Card, who is a clear second favourite for the Ryanair Chase tomorrow. If he wins, it will be father and son who are celebrating.