Colin Tizzard still living the dream as Native River receives hero's welcome

Hundreds of well-wishers braved freezing conditions on Saturday morning to give Native River a reception fit for a king following his victory in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

  • Saturday 17 March
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Hundreds of well-wishers braved freezing conditions on Saturday morning to give Native River a reception fit for a king following his victory in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Rarely can the village of Henstridge Ash in Templecombe, South Somerset have witnessed a crowd as large as that gathered at the Virginia Ash pub to celebrate the success of Colin Tizzard's gelding in the blue riband event 24 hours earlier.

While temperatures may have been biting, those present were soon warmed by the sight of the eight-year-old stepping out of his box before being paraded to the sound of cheers and applause.

After being among the final ones to leave the racecourse - and having watched countless replays of the big race until the early hours - Milborne Port handler Tizzard was still mesmerised by the victory, along with the turnout to greet his new stable star.

Tizzard said: "I thought we would get 20 or 30 turn up, not a few hundred.

"We stayed at the course until they chucked us out. We came back here and it was amazing. I went home at 1am and watched the re-runs until 3am. I just didn't want to go to bed, as it is a dream come true to all of us.

"Richard Johnson and him gel like nothing else. Last year he didn't get up the hill, as we raced him plenty, but this year he had that energy left in him.

"It was probably the most significant thing of the season that he hadn't been raced that much.

"We had nine Grade One winners last year and we knew we could not maintain that. I've always wanted to have a Gold Cup winner and Cue Card tried his best to win me one.

"We bought him as we thought he would be a nice chaser, but he has just progressed into what he is now."

Tizzard confirmed Native River is unlikely to run again this season and will instead be prepared for the defence of his crown in 12 months' time.

He said: "I don't think we will run him again this year. We will try to win next year's Gold Cup with this one again.

"Everything for the rest of his life will be geared around trying to win another Gold Cup, not trying to win a King George, as I don't think that would suit him. Whether he has one or two runs or three runs before, I don't know."

Although Native River was very much the main attraction, his owners Garth and Anne Broom, who operate under the name of Brocade Racing, also enjoyed plenty of attention after posing for the cameras throughout the morning.

Garth said: "It is unreal. It is lovely. I said it is a win for everybody. In the stable, we share all the highs and the lows.

"It is lovely that people have been taking to our horse and have wanted to be pictured with him and us with the Gold Cup.

"It has impressed on us a bit more now that we have done it.

"When you think that Willie Mullins has never won it with the firepower he has got, that puts it into perspective.

"Rich Ricci came up to congratulate us as, did Gordon Elliott. It was lovely."

Travelling head lad Richard Young has spent plenty of time in the horse box with Native River, transporting him from track to track, and the victory will be one that lives long in his memory.

He said: "It was unreal. It looked a really open Gold Cup. When they landed together over the second-last I thought 'you have got to find a bit more'. But he is relentless and he put a good field to the sword.

"He is a horse of a lifetime for us guys and the man aboard him (Johnson) - they just got together like strawberries and cream.

"There is no feeling like it. You get up in the morning on those cold wet days - we've had some great wins over the last couple of years, but to get the big one is what it is all about."

Jubilant scenes were not only witnessed at the track, but also by those back at the yard including the man who knows Native River best, his groom, Hameer Singh

He said: "It is a dream come true. I've looked after good horses for a long time. I am lucky to have looked after him.

"I watched it in the yard, as we were quite busy. I was crying when he won, I couldn't believe it.

"This is my best ever moment. There are no words to describe how good it feels."

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