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Joe Tizzard: “This is the strongest team we’ve ever sent to the Festival”

| 06.03.2020

The latest insight from the Tizzard stables ahead of Cheltenham

We were going to run War Lord in the EBF Final at Sandown, it would have been a nice opportunity for him off a competitive mark, but that’s gone, so we’ll look for something else for him. And we might have one runner at Taunton on Monday, but really it’s all about Cheltenham now. 

The build up – fingers-crossed! – to next week is going really well, we had Jonjo [O’Neill Jr] and Harry [Cobden] in schooling on Thursday, and Robbie [Power] came in this morning [Friday] to have a sit on his rides, so the mood here is good.

This is the strongest team we’ve taken to a Festival, and we’ve certainly not had such strength in depth with our novices.

In the past we’ve gone into the week fancying one or two, but this year you can make cases for five or six of ours. We’ve also had several big priced winners here, so we’re not afraid to run them, however competitive the races may look.

In general, the horses are in good form, it was nice to bag a couple of winners at Wincanton in the week, the Festival horses are well, and of course they have lots of ability. 

Obviously it was disappointing to lose Native River for the season, but as we stand right now, all the others have had a clear run to this point, and as I say, in terms of our novices, I think we’ve got some of the strongest, certainly on this side of the Irish Sea. 

From my point of view, it’s very different heading into a Festival as assistant trainer compared to when I was riding. Then, it was all about staying injury free, and looking to get on as many with chances as possible. 

Now, I have much more responsibility, Dad [Colin] and I spend a lot of time discussing the horses, their targets, their preparation. 

The mood in the yard is slightly different in these last few days, with everyone just that little bit more focused, but I do think Dad finds it easier now, when he has Kim [sister] and I to bounce things off, and to take some of the burden from him.

We had one of our owners down here to watch the schooling this week, and he was getting a little bit edgy, he admitted he was feeling the nerves, but that’s good, as I always say if this next week doesn’t get to you a little bit, doesn’t matter to you, give you some nervous excitement, then you shouldn’t be doing this!

In these final few days, it’s important that we don’t change anything, we keep the Cheltenham runners ticking over as normal, as we would going into any race. 

The hard work has been done, we’ve got them fit and well, we don’t mess with the system that works the rest of the time. We’ve also got all the jockey bookings sorted, bar one in the boys’ race [Martin Pipe Conditionals’], as we’re waiting to see if Jonjo Jr will be available.

We’ll look at all the runners each day next week, but right now, the one horse I’m really looking forward to is Fiddlerontheroof, in the opening Supreme Novices’

He looks a million dollars, he was a Grade 1 winner last time, the likely slow ground will suit him, and although it’s sure to be an ultra-competitive race, I think he’s got a great chance. And I know everyone says it, but I would just love to get that first winner on the board at the first attempt!




Joe Tizzard

Former Jump jockey Joe Tizzard enjoyed a stellar career in the saddle, with his record 91 wins to claim the 1998-99 champion conditional title gaining him prominence. Tizzard’s first Cheltenham Festival successes came during that period, including an Arkle win onboard the Paul Nicholls trained Flagship Uberalles. However, it was his Grade 1 victories in partnership with Cue Card, trained by dad Colin, which really catapulted Joe into the big time. Now assistant trainer to his father the Tizzards’ Dorset yard is home to some of the most exciting horses in training, including Cue Card, Thistlecrack and Native River. You can read Joe’s thoughts and get exclusive insight at throughout the 2019-20 season.