Joe Tizzard: “I would not swap Native River for any other horse in the race.”

Joe Tizzard

Gold Cup insight from the Tizzard stables

Friday – Cheltenham Festival

2.10 County Hurdle – Pingshou

We are clutching at straws a little but with Pingshou here. He is an older horse who has no mileage on him though and he is a Grade One winner.

He needs a massive improvement on what we have seen from him this season but sometimes Grade One winners can bounce back so we are hopeful.

2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – Darlac and Rockpoint

Darlac finished second in a Grade Two race earlier in the season. I think he wants a bit better ground so the more it dries up, the better for him. He has won as a novice and he will give his owners a great day out at the very least.

Rockpoint has course form as he was a Grade Two winner around here. He ran well at Warwick where it was too quick for him and he just got outpaced. He is a stayer so if it is a strong run race, it will suit him.

3.30 Cheltenham Gold Cup – Elegant Escape, Native River and Thistlecrack

Native River is in cracking form. Conditions are starting to suit him. He hasn’t had those perfect conditions this season. Haydock is obviously a sharp track and he stayed on well at the end.

At Kempton he struggled going right-handed. Coming back here, going left-handed, the extra quarter of a mile, it will all play into his hands.

He is going to be ridden aggressively and honestly I would not swap him for any other horse in the race. Obviously it is tough to win this race twice but there are no scars from last year.

Might Bite was at his best last year and we were able to get the better of him at the end. It is a strong Gold Cup this year which so many new faces. We are really happy with Native River though and expect a big performance again.

It is great to get Thistlecrack into a Gold Cup. He ran a cracking race in the King George and we have him as well as he has been for a long time.

Two years ago we would be going into this with a huge chance, regardless of the field as when he won his World Hurdle he was superb.

Injuries have taken their toll though but we have got him back here. We will be following horses through and hopefully staying on in the last couple of furlongs.

The younger horse of the three is Elegant Escape who deserves to take his chance. He has improved throughout the season. He was second in the Ladbroke Trophy and then won the Coral Welsh Grand National.

He arguably ran a career best in the Cotswold Chase. If anything, he just lacks half a gear.

He has to be ridden very aggressively and Tom will need to be on the ball. His best work will be done up the hill and on slow ground, there is no reason why he can’t be there at the finish.


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