Colin Tizzard

    Dorset trainer Colin Tizzard may be without the brilliant Thistlecrack but he still has plenty to look forward to at the festival including Native River and Cue Card - the first two in the Gold Cup betting - as well as some exciting novices.
  • Friday 24 February 2017
  • Stable Tours

Colin Tizzard had the hammer blow of the brilliant Thistlecrack being ruled out of the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with a torn tendon recently but the good news is the chasing sensation will be back next season and, even without the brilliant King George winner, Tizzard has formidable team for the Cheltenham Festival.

Such is the strength in depth at his Dorset yard that Native River - who completed the Hennessy-Welsh National double - and Cue Card - winner of the Betfair Chase and the Ascot Chase - still head the betting for the blue riband.

There is further hope of glory with exciting novice hurdlers Finian’s Oscar and West Approach plus the promise of better to come from his other representatives.

Colin kindly guided Tony Elves of attheraces.com through his main Cheltenham Festival contenders.

All Horses

Alary (FR)

Trainer Says:

He will go for the Ryanair. We saw a bit more at Exeter. He was stopping and you never know with these French horses he may be acclimatising. Alary looked like he was going to be a three and a half miler but when you saw him on the gallops he looked a two and a half miler this morning. I think he is a real player and when we jumped him this week he was a man of a horse and didn’t think he had just had a fall. He arched his back and landed 15 foot clear the other side. He is a good horse.

Cue Card

  • 11-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: King's Theatre - Wicked Crack (King's Ride)
  • Trained by: C L Tizzard
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 17 Mar 2017 15:30
  • Result: F/13, mid-division, not fluent 11th, not clear run and switched right before 16th, niggled along after 4 out, yet to really close when fell 3 out
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

We have had this pressure with Cue Card for seven years it was two years ago when he had a trapped epilglotis and a stress fracture the year before that and missed two Cheltenhams. We are nearly through and we don’t have to do some big racecourse gallops we can do all our work at home. We will probably jump him next week but we are on auto pilot now and only have to do what we do every week of the year. It was amazing the reception he got at Ascot and he’s 11-years-old but he jumped better than he has ever done and won well. He came right away and won as he wanted and if he was a seven-year-old you would have said he was just coming to his best. I don’t want to take anything away from the first two in the Gold Cup last year and the competition is to jump the fences and gallop for three miles and two furlongs and he didn’t. The Gold Cup is a big occasion for all of us and let’s hope he won’t be in that position where he fell this time around – hopefully he will be in front or behind and sitting and waiting as he’s a bit faster than your average Gold Cup horse. Going two and a half at Ascot worked out a treat and it was a lovely prep race. They went fast and he was slick. He started off as a Champion bumper horse and he’s still winning Grade 1 at 11-years-old and done nearly everything bar winning a Gold Cup.

Video Form
27 Apr 2016:
29 Apr 2015:

Finian's Oscar (IRE)

Trainer Says:

He’s gorgeous horse and favourite or second favourite for the Neptune. There have been plenty of horses in the past who have run in the Neptune and gone on to be Champion Hurdle winners. He is a brother to Finian’s Rainbow who was a two miler but he has come through the point-to-point ranks and just doesn’t stop. The last half of the Neptune is just as fast as the Supreme and he has progressed beyond our expectations. He is in the Supreme and we will leave it for a bit longer to decided which to go for. He never broke into a sweat after his last race and is a good horse.

Video Form
19 Dec 2016:

Fox Norton (FR)

Trainer Says:

He could go for the Queen Mother Champion Chase or the Ryanair. He gave Altior 5lb, an impossible task, when second at Newbury after not jumping that well and had spent a month in his box beforehand after he jumped into himself and cut a leg when winning at Cheltenham in December. Neil Mulholland says he is more like a Spring ground, flat out two miles horse and I was leaning more to the Ryanair with him as I watched last year’s Arkle and it took a long time for him to get to third but we will keep the options open. He was stiff behind for a week after the Newbury race and he is a good horse in his own right. If we get a clear run in the next three weeks he will take some beating. Douvan is a very good horse but you should not be afraid of one and we will leave it until the five-day stage.

Video Form
30 Jan 2016:
17 Feb 2015:
3 May 2014:

Native River (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; chestnut gelding
  • Breeding: Indian River - Native Mo (Be My Native)
  • Trained by: C L Tizzard
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 17 Mar 2017 15:30
  • Result: 3/13, prominent, led 3rd, headed 7th, led 15th, not fluent 4 out, ridden and headed 2 out, stayed on under pressure flat but no impression on winner, went 2nd towards finish, lost 2nd post
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

I would feel the same as I would with Cue Card if he was to win a Gold Cup. We have had him since he was a four-year-old and he’s a lovely young pretender with a long raking stride and longer stride than any other horse we have here. He jumps and he stays and it doesn’t matter what ground he has. We saw something at Newbury that we didn’t know he had and that was gears and he has all the qualities. I know he was beating a 154-rated horse but he just sprinted away and is in the form of his life and will take a beating. He ran in the four miler at Cheltenham last year and then came out and won a Grade 1 at Aintree and he must have the constitution of an Ox.

Video Form
27 Dec 2016:
10 Oct 2015:
29 Nov 2014:
30 Oct 2014:
10 Oct 2014:

Pingshou (IRE)

Trainer Says:

He came with a health warning and really and was a seven-year-old that hadn’t raced for two years. I am sure we will run him in the Supreme. He hadn’t been in a stable for two years and he must have bled but we trained him out in a field and he never bled for us. He has Cheltenham form and will take his chance.

Video Form
26 Dec 2014:

Royal Vacation (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: King's Theatre - Summer Break (Foxhound)
  • Trained by: C L Tizzard
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 15 Mar 2017 14:10
  • Result: PU/12, tracked leaders, not fluent 3rd, dropped off front trio 7th, closed from 12th, losing place 14th, weakened after next, pulled up after 4 out
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He started off rated 127 but he won three hurdles last year and we were chuffed as nut when he was going to be second to Might Bite at Kempton with some good horses behind him. He came out at Cheltenham and won easily and Paddy Brennan said we have got to go to Cheltenham for the RSA Chase and not the four-mile chase – he can’t ride him in that! What he has got in his favour is that we can say that we can run him right off the pace and he won’t have to sit with the bunch and get involved in the things that can happen in the RSA as he will stay four miles.

Video Form
22 Nov 2016:
19 Oct 2016:
27 Mar 2016:
23 Feb 2016:

Sizing Codelco (IRE)

Trainer Says:

He is a 140 horse and finished a length and a quarter behind Top Notch at Ascot earlier in the season at level weights in a Graduation race and then we ran him over too far a trip last time and we will drop in him back to two miles five in the Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate. First time out he pulled up and I thought he was skiving and then ran well behind Top Notch. He is going nicely at home and looks well handicapped.

Video Form
28 Apr 2016:
3 Jan 2016:
19 Sep 2015:
28 Apr 2015:
7 Apr 2015:

Theatre Guide (IRE)

Trainer Says:

He goes to Kempton on Saturday in his own right and then we can start talking about the Gold Cup. If he wins well then we will go there. Horses with his rating have run big races in the Gold Cup, like Norton’s Coin, and he deserves to go there.

Video Form
27 Dec 2016:

Thistlecrack

  • 9-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Kayf Tara - Ardstown (Ardross)
  • Trained by: C L Tizzard
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 28 Jan 2017 14:15
  • Result: 2/7, tracked leaders, pecked 9th, not fluent 4 out, awkward landing 3 out, challenged next, led narrowly flat, headed close home
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

The good part about it is if you walked into the stable now you wouldn’t know which leg it was as the tear was so minute. We haven’t busted him, it is not life threatening and we have to enjoy what he has done for us and get him back at Christmas and do it all again. We have had disappointments before in the lead up to big races but it did hit us and any horse having a setback is galling. We were letting him fill up and he probably aggravated it a bit at Cheltenham and we were only cantering him but it flared up.

Video Form
25 Oct 2016:
29 Apr 2015:

West Approach

Trainer Says:

He is a brother to Thistlecrack and he is in the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett. We thought he’s a novice and go novice route but the owners have never been scared to campaign at the highest level. If you take the Stayers’ Hurdle we know how good all the horses are but in the Albert Bartlett there could be some real crackers in there we don’t know about. I know if the favourite came out we would go Stayers’ Hurdle as he has won it with his brother and he would like to do the same with West Approach. Ruby thought the horse caught him by surprise last time and he was going to sit mid division but the horse went to sleep and bunny-hopped the first two and was last 20 lengths off the pace but the horse made it up and had a chance going to the last and is improving. He worked this week and I have never seen him work better. On the flip side we didn’t run him after Cheltenham last season as we wanted to keep him a novice for this season and it is 50-50.

Video Form
4 May 2016:
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