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Tizzard keenly anticipating The Festival

Press Release 23rd February 2017 Cheltenham

Colin Tizzard paraded 11 horses before the media at a windy Spurles Farm Stables on the Somerset/Dorset border this morning, Thursday, February 23, ahead of The Festival next month.
 
The trainer has plenty of entries over the four days, headed by Cue Card, Native River and Theatre Guide, who runs at Kempton on Saturday, in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup on the final day of The Festival, Friday, March 17.
 
He said: "Native River has shown what a good horse he is this season, winning the Hennessy and Coral Welsh National, and then we saw something different at Newbury recently, which we didn't know he had, when sprinting clear on the run-in - we don't have to go on six or eight fences out now.
 
"We can save that spurt for two out and we know he will gallop up that Cheltenham hill. He has got everything and is in the form of his life.
 
"He has what it takes to win a Gold Cup, whether or not he does so this year. He is only seven and he is gong the right way.
 
"We have had Native River since he was a four-year-old and he is lovely young pretender now. He has a long raking stride - longer than any horse we have got here.
 
"Cue Card has been a fantastic horse for us - he has won a Champion Bumper and Ryanair at The Festival and he was running a hell of a race last year before he fell.
 
"He won so strongly at Ascot on Saturday and looks as well as he has ever been. It was amazing the reception he got at Ascot and he jumped as well as he has ever done. He sauntered home and it was fantastic to see.
 
"I am sure he stays the Gold Cup trip - he has got it all. I am so proud of the horse - this morning he was loving being out on the gallops and it was as though he was doing it for the first season.
 
"Cue Card has done everything bar winning a Gold Cup and we have everything to play for. We thought his chance (of winning a Gold Cup) might have gone, but he has an equally good chance this year as he had last year.
 
"He started off as a Champion Bumper horse and now he is 11 years old and still winning Grade Ones.
 
"Going there with the first and second favourites, does not mean we are going to win the Gold Cup - they have got to bring their best game on the day.
 
"Anybody who has been to Gold Cup Day would be absolutely chuffed to have the first and second favourites in the Gold Cup - for me it is the biggest race of the season and ultimate test of any horse.
 
"There is no way I would want one horse to win more than the other - all I want is for both horses to run their races and come back fit and sound, and may the best horse win.
 
"Thistlecrack is still here - the injury (earlier this week) was minute - I was devastated at the time but now I am looking on the positive side - he won a King George this season - and we haven't broken him - I am sure he will be back next season. Nobody has died. We have to move on.
 
"We have had a lot of horses over the years who have been as good as they have ever been at 11 or 12. We don't think we are mollycoddling horses.
 
"West Approach ran his race last time when third at Cheltenham - at 157 he is a highly-rated novice and he had a ride from Ruby Walsh that was absolutely brilliant or slightly out of his ground. Ruby said he wished he had been five lengths closer all the time.
 
"He did not finish very far behind the Stayers' Hurdle horses (in the G2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, January 28). His owners, John and Heather Snook, have never shied away from going for the best races and therefore he could go for the Stayers' Hurdle rather than the Albert Bartlett (Novices' Hurdle) at The Festival.
 
"He is a half-brother to Thistlecrack - nowhere near as big or long but they have got that same engine. Thistlecrack started to find his true form about this age (seven) and it looks like West Approach is the same.
 
"We never thought when we bought him with chasing in mind that Finian's Oscar would be favourite for the Neptune (Investment Management Novices' Hurdle) at The Festival. He has progressed beyond our expectations. He is also in the Supreme (Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle) over two miles and we will leave it a bit longer to decide which to go for. He never broke into a sweat after his last race and is a good horse.
 
"There has been quite a few Champion Hurdlers who have run in the Neptune in the past so you cannot go there thinking you are going to take on slower horses. I am favouring two miles, five furlongs, but I don't know why as he is a brother to Finian's Rainbow, a two-miler. He came through the point-to-points ranks and does not stop.
 
"Alary was fine after his Exeter fall where he ran a lot better. I don't think he is a three-mile horse, probably two and a half miles. He is fast as anything and looks beautiful - I think we will go to the Ryanair with him. He is going to be a good horse - I have no doubt about that - it is whether he has acclimatised yet. He is rated 162.
 
"Fox Norton could go for the Queen Mother (Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase) or the Ryanair. He gave Altior 5lb, an impossible task, when second at Newbury after not jumping that well and had spent a month in his box beforehand after he jumped into himself and cut a leg when winning at Cheltenham in December.
 
"He was stiff behind for a week after the Newbury race - he is a good horse in his own right and if we get a clear run in the next three weeks he will take some beating. Douvan is very good horse but you should not be afraid of one.
 
"There are six to eight handicappers, owned by Ann and Alan Potts, we stopped at Christmas purposefully to go for the handicaps at The Festival. We gave them a break so they had their best chance at Cheltenham. For instance, Sizing Codelco nearly beat Top Notch and is a good strong horse. He is gong nicely at the moment and seems well-handicapped (for the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate)."
 
Colin Tizzard Media Stable Visit, 
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Spurles Farm, Milborne Port on the Dorset/Somerset border
 
Born - January 7, 1956
 
Background - The second son of Leslie and Marjorie Tizzard, Colin grew up on the family farm in Milborne Port, Dorset, enjoying hunting, shooting and fishing.
 
Dairy farming and horses have always been his passions and he has made a success of both enterprises, acquiring more land as the years have passed and hundreds of cows.
 
He was a member of the Pony Club before riding with some success in point-to-points and later under-Rules as an amateur.
 
Colin started training two point-to-point horses in 1995 for his son Joe to ride and has since built up his string steadily. First he became one of the most significant trainers in the south west, but now he is challenging for national honours, being currently second in the Jump trainers' championship.
 
He has sent out over 500 winners under Rules, and is about to celebrate his best season in terms of both winners and prize money.
 
Colin, until this week, had the first three in the betting for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday, March 17, the last day of The Festival at Cheltenham.
 
Thistlecrack, the easy winner of last year's equivalent of the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle, was going to be the latest novice chaser to run in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, but a slight tendon injury earlier this week has ruled him out of contention.
 
The trainer relies on Native River and Cue Card, two high-class chasers. Cue Card has been successful in nine Grade One races already, and is a regular at The Festival, winning the Ryanair Chase in 2013 and the Weatherbys Champion Bumper in 2010, but fell three out when going well in the Gold Cup last year.
 
Native River has come to the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup through handicaps this season, defying a big weight in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November and top-weight in the Welsh National at Chepstow in December before winning the G2 Denman Chase at Newbury earlier this month.
 
Joe was a Jump jockey for nearly 20 years and celebrated four victories at The Festival, headed by Cue Card's successes in the 2010 Weatherbys Champion Bumper and 2013 Ryanair Chase. Joe, who rode over 600 winners under Rules before retiring from race riding in March, 2014, now acts as an assistant trainer to his father.
 
Colin's wife Pauline and daughter Kim (assistant trainer) are also very much involved in the training business, which took a further step forward in September, 2015 with the transfer of the horses from Venn Farm on the London Road just outside Milborne Port to new premises at nearby Spurles Farm.
 
First winner under Rules - The Jogger, Wincanton, May 7, 1996
 
Cheltenham Festival wins (5)
2010 - Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Cue Card)
2011 - Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (Oiseau de Nuit)
2013 - Ultima Handicap Chase (Golden Chieftain), Ryanair Chase (Cue Card)
2016 - Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle (Thistlecrack)
 
Other big race wins include:
Betfair Chase - 2013, 2015 & 2016 Cue Card
King George VI Chase - 2015 Cue Card, 2016 Thistlecrack
Long Walk Hurdle - 2015 Thistlecrack
Sefton Novices' Hurdle - 2015 Thistlecrack
Betfair Ascot Chase - 2013 & 2017 Cue Card
Feltham Novices' Chase - 2007 Joe Lively, 2016 Royal Vacation
Liverpool Stayers' Hurdle - 2016 Thistlecrack
Mildmay Novices' Chase - 2016 Native River
Hennessy Gold Cup - 2016 Native River
Welsh National - 2016 Native River
Tolworth Novices' Hurdle - 2017 Finian's Oscar
 
Colin Tizzard's entries for The Festival 2017
CHAMPION DAY - TUESDAY, MARCH 14 (OLD COURSE)
 
1.30pm £125,000 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m ½f
Finian's Oscar, Pingshou
 
2.10pm £175,000 Racing Post Arkle Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 2m
No entries
 
2.50pm £105,000 Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f
Bally Longford, Robinsfirth, Theatre Guide, Viconte du Noyer
 
3.30pm £400,000 Stan James Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m ½f
No entries
 
4.10pm £110,000 OLBG Mares' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f
Morello Royale
 
4.50pm £120,000 J T McNamara National Hunt Chase (Novices) (Amateurs) (Grade 2) 4m
No entries
 
5.30pm £70,000 Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase (0-140) (Listed) 2m 4½f
Mick Thonic, Sizing Tennessee
 
LADIES DAY - WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15 (OLD COURSE & CROSS COUNTRY)
 
1.30pm £125,000 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 5f
Finian's Oscar
 
2.10pm £175,000 RSA Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 3m ½f
Robinsfirth, Royal Vacation
 
2.50pm £95,000 Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) 2m 5f
Morello Royale, Solatentif, Third Intention, Valhalla
 
3.30pm £350,000 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 2m
Fox Norton, Sizing Granite, Viconte Du Noyer
 
4.10pm £65,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f
Entries close February 28
 
4.50pm £80,000 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m ½f
No entries
 
5.30pm £75,000 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) 2m ½f
Entries close February 28
 
ST PATRICK'S THURSDAY - THURSDAY, MARCH 16 (NEW COURSE)
1.30pm £150,000 JLT Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f
No entries
 
2.10pm £95,000 Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle) (Listed) 3m
No entries
 
2.50pm £300,000 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 2m 5f
Alary, Fox Norton, Sizing Granite, Viconte Du Noyer
 
3.30pm £300,000 Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m
West Approach
 
4.10pm £105,000 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Chase) (Grade 3) 2m 5f
Bally Longford, Quite By Chance, Sizing Codelco, Viconte du Noyer
 
4.50pm £80,000 Trull House Stud Mares Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 1f
Entries close February 28
 
5.30pm £70,000 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (Amateurs) (0-145) 3m 2f
Bally Longford, Theatrical Star
 
GOLD CUP DAY - FRIDAY, MARCH 17 (NEW COURSE)
 
1.30pm £125,000 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f 125,000
No entries
 
2.10pm £95,000 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 1f
Solatentif
 
2.50pm £125,000 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m
Elegant Escape, West Approach
 
3.30pm £575,000 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) 3m 2½f
Cue Card, Native River, Theatre Guide
 
4.10pm £45,000 St James's Place Foxhunter Chase 3m 2½f
Entries close February 28
 
4.50pm £65,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (0-145) 2m 4½f
Solatentif
 
5.30pm £105,000 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m ½f
Mick Thonic, Quite By Chance, Sizing Platinum, Ultragold

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