Colin Tizzard is now a permanent fixture among the elite of National Hunt racing – a position he will be confident of maintaining this season given the talent at his disposal.
Success eluded Tizzard at the Cheltenham Festival for the second season running in March, but the campaign was anything but a failure as he celebrated a further three Grade One winners.
Arguably the pick of those triumphs at the top table was the victory of Lostinstranslation in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, and with the eight-year-old ending his campaign with a fine third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup more of the same is expected this term.
Tizzard’s son and assistant Joe is a key part of the operation and said: “He had a hell of a season. Although we thought he was more than capable of doing it he had to step forward.
“At Carlisle he was just showing off and it was a performance to enjoy, then at Haydock he did what we thought he would and ticked the boxes of staying three miles well and proving that he could battle.
“We thought he was better going into Kempton (King George VI Chase) and he came out of it not quite right so we gave him a slight wind op which we had been talking about. It wasn’t the track and we will probably go back there this year.
“In the Gold Cup run he travelled better than anything, jumping the last upsides, so what more could you want. If we have a clear run with him he has a huge chance in it this season as he would only need to improve a little bit.
“The Gold Cup is what he will be aimed for and his first run this year will be in the Betfair Chase.”
Although injury prevented 2018 Gold Cup hero Native River from a fourth outing in the race at this year’s Festival, the 10-year-old is back in training and is being aimed at a repeat success in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on his return.
Tizzard said: “He is back in and he will probably be aimed at the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree he won last year.
“Whether Garth and Anne (Broom, owners) would be persuaded to give him a spin in the Grand National, I’m not sure, but I’m sure they will aim him at the Gold Cup first.
“He doesn’t owe us anything and he is still capable of winning a big one.”
Though the Tizzards are known for producing talented staying chasers, victory in the Randox Health Grand National is something that has so far eluded them. In Elegant Escape they could have the ideal contender to change that statistic.
Tizzard said: “Elegant Escape is already a Welsh National winner and we know he stays and jumps well so he is going to have a crack at a Grand National this season.
“We will probably go to the Becher Chase to give him a spin over the fences as Jon (Romans, owner) would like him to tick that box first, but he could have an outing over hurdles first.
“We will almost certainly skip Cheltenham this season for Aintree.”
If there is one division the Tizzards look strong in this season it is novice chases, headed by last season’s Tolworth Hurdle winner Fiddlerontheroof who will make his debut over fences in the Listed Dunraven Windows Novices’ Chase at Chepstow on Saturday.
“We schooled him over fences for the first time last month and he jumped beautifully but he should do as he has already run in three point-to-points,” said Tizzard.
“What he was doing over hurdles was a bonus and it was great to see him dot up the way he did in the Tolworth. He was always going to be a chaser and hopefully he will be better again.
“He is as good as any of those good novices we’ve had going over fences. He has had a proper summer break and has come back in big and strong. I think two and a half miles will be his trip and I can see him ending up in a JLT. “
Equally as exciting is stablemate The Big Breakaway, who was last sighted finishing fourth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle behind the unbeaten Envoi Allen.
Tizzard said: “He has schooled well and is a really natural jumper. He looked to me like he wanted a trip at Cheltenham in the Ballymore as he was kind of flat out all the way.
“He is a big, long-striding horse and he will probably start over two and a half over a big galloping track. He doesn’t show a lack of pace at home and he is not slow.
“He is probably the most exciting horse we have got going forward and the sky is the limit with him at this stage as a five-year-old.”
Copperhead went from strength to strength last season before coming to grief in the RSA Novices’ Chase, but hopes are high the talented six-year-old can resume his progression.
“He was a really progressive horse last season and ended up winning the Reynoldstown at Ascot,” said Tizzard.
“He wasn’t necessarily running his race at Cheltenham then he had a nasty fall. He has been schooled since and that hasn’t had an adverse effect on him.
“He is a good jumper and a horse that should be well suited to a Ladbrokes Trophy and the Welsh Grand National as he jumps and stays well.
“I think one day he could be a National horse, but if he wins a Ladbrokes Trophy he nearly puts himself in Gold Cup territory.”
An attempt to turn Elixir De Nutz into a Champion Hurdle candidate failed to go to plan last season, so the Tizzards will be looking to enjoy better fortunes with Grade Two winner Master Debonair.
“We want to see if he is good enough for a Champion Hurdle so the Elite Hurdle will be his first start and then we’ll look at something over Christmas,” said Tizzard jnr.
“There is no reason why he shouldn’t progress with age and if he does that puts him in the shake up. He has acted round Cheltenham before.
“He is a staying two-miler as well which is what you need in a Champion Hurdle.”
Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard nominates eight more to follow from the Milbourne Port stable away from his big guns:
Christmas In April
“Dad said to me about the Grand National. He has crept up all the way through and if he keeps going he is only five or six pound off being a Grand National horse. A tilt at the Welsh National could be his first real aim. Extreme trips play into his hands.”
“He has got no mileage on the clock as it hasn’t quite happened for him yet, but he is a seriously talented horse and I’m looking forward to going novice chasing with him. He had those couple of runs in the second half of last season and he has had a real good summer.”
Elixir De Nutz
“We were hoping he would be a Champion Hurdle horse last season. He will go chasing now and he wants a fence to get him to settle. You won’t see him being launched into the deep end to start with as we want to try and build his confidence up.”
“He was a Grade Two winner round Cheltenham last season and he progressed all season. He is a much stronger horse this year. He has jumped for fun over fences when we schooled him over them. You never know how much he will improve for a fence, but he has schooled well and won a point-to-point so he is an exciting horse.”
Rose Of Arcadia
“She is a very talented mare and she would have gone to Aintree where I think she would have nearly won the mares’ bumper there. She has schooled well and all being well she will end up in the mares’ novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham as she is a very smart filly. We think she is as good a mare as we’ve had in training and we are excited about her.”
“I think he will be a nice novice hurdler this season. He was fourth in a nice bumper around Kempton in his race so far. He might go to the Listed bumper at Cheltenham first time out then go over hurdles. He is quite a sharp little horse that I think is quite a nice sort.”
“He is being aimed at the Ladbrokes Trophy and will probably go to the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby first. In the Cotswold Chase he was wrong and then it didn’t quite happen at Cheltenham, but he had a hard season. As he went through the season it looked like he was crying out for a trip as well. He is the sort of horse that can switch off and travel in behind and the track at Newbury will suit him.”
“Physically he looks as good as ever. I would imagine we will stay over hurdles, but we will take it day-by-day with him. He showed a lot at Newbury last year and that is good enough form to suggest he can win a race like that. One of those long-distance hurdles leading up to Cheltenham he could easily run well in.”