Finding a horse capable of filling the box once occupied by Cue Card was always going to be a tricky task for trainer Colin Tizzard – but in Lostintranslation, he might just have the perfect replacement.
For all the success Cue Card achieved, victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup was to elude him throughout his career, and the Milborne Port trainer senses Lostintranslation could succeed where his former stable star failed.
Having finished second on his first two starts at Grade One level over fences, the seven-year-old demonstrated his talents up in trip at Aintree – putting himself in the category of future Gold Cup contender.
Tizzard said: “He is likely to start off at Carlisle for the intermediate race, because it is the last time he will be able to run in one – for the next few seasons, we hope he will be running in top races every time.
“He was a big block of a horse when he came to us. But when we first ran him at Chepstow he very nearly won, and the good ones often take you by surprise.
“The horses that ran in the RSA were tired at Aintree, in my opinion, and we ran short of our trip at Cheltenham, so we had a bit of horse left, and that’s how I look at it.
“All being well, he will then go on to Haydock, then the King George and have one more run before the Gold Cup. Everything points to him getting the Gold Cup trip.”
While Lostintranslation is the new kid on the block, Tizzard believes 2018 Gold Cup hero Native River still has more to offer.
He said: “We had it in our mind we might enter him in the Welsh National again, because it would be three-miles-five on soft to heavy ground and he would lob round in that, but if it is heavy he could go to Haydock for the Betfair Chase.
“When we won the Hennessy with him, we took him to Wetherby for the three-mile hurdle there and that put him just right, and there is no reason why we can’t do that.
“We’ve not got many races we could run him in, and he has become ground dependent. We will try to get him ready before Christmas, then take in the Denman and the Gold Cup like before.”
The Grand National is a race that does not yet appear on Tizzard’s impressive CV – but last year’s Welsh National hero Elegant Escape could put that right, should connections go down that route.
Tizzard said: “We will go to the Charlie Hall, then we have three options after that – the Ladbrokes Trophy, Betfair Chase or Becher Chase. He is only seven, but he could progress into a Gold Cup horse – he could run in that and the Grand National.
“Last year he was just tired by the end of the season – because he had been to Sandown, Newbury, the Welsh National and Cotswold Chase – but he still managed to finish sixth in the Gold Cup, so he wasn’t that far out.”
Tizzard hopes Elixir De Nutz, last sighted winning the Tolworth at Sandown in January, can develop into a live contender for the Champion Hurdle on his return from injury.
He said: “It was gutting he picked up a small injury before Cheltenham, but he is a young horse that we couldn’t take any chances with.
“He will run somewhere in December, and we will try to make him into a Champion Hurdle horse. He is rated 153, and it is a big step, so he needs to improve, but there is no reason why he won’t.
“Terry Warner (owner) has had great success in the Champion Hurdle and when we discussed what we were going to do, he agreed with us straightaway.”
Dual Grade One-winning novice hurdler Reserve Tank had to settle for second on his fencing debut at Chepstow, but it was a performance Tizzard is confident he can build on as the season progresses.
He said: “It looked like he had come to win it at the second-last, but he got a bit tired and was beaten by a good horse.
“Robbie (Power) wasn’t too disappointed with him – he can run in three weeks to a month’s time and go learn his job.
“I would have thought two and a half was his trip. But he gained pace as he went through last season, and in soft ground you wouldn’t worry about dropping him back in trip.
“I’d imagine he would get two entries at Cheltenham (Arkle and JLT), but that is a long way off and we will suss out where we are going first.”
Although Tizzard has a number of nice novices to go to war with this season, it is Bangor bumper winner L’Air Du Vent that has him most excited.
He said: “He won at Bangor and looks a proper horse. Jonjo O’Neill jnr said at the time he was the best bumper horse he had ridden at that time of year. He is a lovely horse.”
Others to note
“He will be ready to run in December at some point. He has only had a couple of runs over hurdles, so I’d imagine we would chuck him in a handicap and see where we are with him. This year might be a case of finding our feet with him.”
“That was a lovely performance, to finish second in the Persian War. He had a little blow coming to the second-last, but the way he travelled and jumped, he looks like a nice horse.
“Before the race he walked around like a class animal. We will be aiming him at all the nice novices coming up.”
“He will be ready near Christmas. If we can get him back to anywhere near his best, which I don’t see why we can’t, then he is a top-class two-miler. I don’t think we need to look any further. It would be quite nice to do all the festivals in the spring with him.”
“He won at Ffos Las, then he had a stress fracture in his pelvis and never came back after that. I think the plan is to have a go at the World Hurdle with him this year. We will start him in either the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury or the Long Walk at Ascot.”
“He was making a noise at the end of last season, so we have done his wind. He is a lovely horse, and we schooled him last year. He is probably one of our brightest novices coming through.”
“He is a Ladbrokes Trophy horse for the first half of the season and will probably start in the intermediate chase at Sandown that Elegant Escape won last year. He is a second-season chaser rated 149, so he ticks a lot of boxes for the Ladbrokes. He stays well, so he could be a Welsh National horse after that.
“I’m sure he will develop into a Grand National horse, but that hasn’t really been discussed yet.”
“We are not sure where we go with him, but he has still put up the best performance of any of our horses on ratings in the King George. He won’t be having too many runs, because he can’t take them, but if we can get him right there could be a nice pot in him still. He is still the joint top-rated horse in our yard, and hopefully there is one good race left in him.”
“He injured himself at Aintree the season before last, and it was catch-up all last season. We think he has a very good mark – we will probably take him to the first meeting at Cheltenham for a novice chase, then go to the second meeting there for the BetVictor.”
Vision Des Flos
“After he popped Tom Scudamore out of the door on his chasing debut, we thought we might try to make him into a Champion Hurdle horse. Then as the year went through, we realised he needed a bit further. If had not missed the last at Punchestown, he would have been first or second there. We will start him over two and a half over fences, but I’d imagine he would then step up to a RSA sort of horse. He is improving all the time and he jumps very well.”
“He was second to Paisley Park twice last year and was probably the only horse to get close to him. I’m not sure what route we will end up going with him. He will probably start off in the handicap chase at Cheltenham he finished third in last year. We can chop and change with him, because he is pretty versatile.”