Connections of Native River have confirmed that his whole season will be geared to having another crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. He is currently a top price 25/1 with Paddy Power for chasing’s blue riband contest.
The Colin Tizzard trained nine-year-old has a fine record at the Cheltenham Festival. After finishing second to Minella Rocco in the 2016 running of the 4m National Hunt Chase, the son of Indian River ran very well when third behind Sizing John in the Cheltenham Gold Cup 12 months later.
Native River the enjoyed his finest hour in the running of the Cheltenham Gold Cup when getting the better of a ding dong tussle with Might Bight to prevail by 4 1/2 lengths. He was also far from disgraced in this year’s renewal when fourth to Al Boum Photo.
Plans are fluid for the first half of the 2019/20 season, with races like the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow which he won three years ago under consideration.
Part-owner Garth Broom told the Racing Post: “He looks very well, but we are not going to rush him this season. I don’t know where he will start at his stage.
“I don’t think there is much point going for the King George as he doesn’t really like the course at Kempton and we are toying with the Welsh National. Until the horse is spot-on and the ground comes right, we aren’t making any firm plans.
“I know he would have to give a lot of weight away in the Welsh National, but the track suits him. Ireland (Savills Chase at Leopardstown) is an option and we are keeping an open mind.
“What we want him for are the Denman Chase at Newbury and the Gold Cup after Christmas. I’m not saying he would win the Gold Cup, but I’d hope he would run well in it as he has been placed in it three times. He never lets us down and always runs his race.”
Reserve Tank Set for Chasing Debut at Chepstow
Tizzard’s dual-Grade 1 winning hurdler Reserve Tank is set to make his eagerly awaited debut over fences at Chepstow on Saturday, October 12.
The five-year-old progressed at a rate of knots at the back end of last season when landing the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting before following up in fine style at the Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.
He is the general 12-1 market leader for the JLT Novices’ Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and set to appear in a Listed extended 2m 3f novice chase at the Welsh venue – a race in which former Tizzard stars Cue Card and Finian’s Oscar scored on their chasing debuts.
Tizzard told the Racing post: “We’ve had this race in mind since he came in and he’s had two or three schooling sessions and been very good.
“The ground will be lovely and the trip is right. He travelled supremely well at Punchestown and you wouldn’t be afraid of coming back in trip, but for the moment two and a half miles is ideal.
“I don’t know how good he’ll be over fences, but he’s done nothing wrong on his last two starts – in Grade 1 races – and was mightily impressive, so he’s a very good horse.”
The Dorset-based confirmed that regular pilot Robbie Power would travel from Ireland to ride Reserve Tank and I for one can’t wait to see him in action having put him up as one to follow over fences this season.
Twiston-Davies Outlines Plans for Stable Stars
Naunton-based handler Nigel Twiston-Davies has outlined plans for some of his leading horses, including top class chaser Bristol De Mai who is set to make his return to action in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby ahead of attempting to claim a third successive victory in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock.
After finishing a cracking third to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, the eight-year old ended the campaign with a below-par effort in the Betway Bowl at Aintree the following month when a well-beaten fourth to Kemboy.
Speaking to At The Races, Twiston-Davies said: “Bristol De Mai is in good shape. He will go for the Charlie Hall, then the Betfair Chase. He has made the race his own for the past two seasons.
“He has been well over the summer and is showing as much enthusiasm as ever. Everything is all good with him.”
Twiston-Davies went on to reveal that last year’s Betfair Hurdle winner Al Dancer, who lost his unbeaten record over hurdles when a below par 10th of 16 to Klassical Dream in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, could make his first start over fences in a novice chase at Newton Abbot on Sunday, October 13.
A trip to Chepstow on Saturday (October 12) is under consideration for four-time Cheltenham winner Wholestone, who finished alone when making a winning debut over the larger obstacles at perth last month.
Ballyandy, meanwhile, is being lined up to return in the Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle on the same card.
The eight-year-old, who won the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016, also ran a cracker at this year’s meeting when third of 25 to William Henry in the Coral Cup.