TEARFUL TIZZARD LANDS FIRST TIMICO CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
Trainer Colin Tizzard teamed up with champion jockey Richard Johnson to land today's Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with Native River.
The 5/1 winner made the running until headed briefly at the second-last fence by 4/1 favourite Might Bite, but he was soon back on terms and pulled clear on the run-in to score by four and a half lengths. Four lengths behind Might Bite was Anibale Fly, 33/1.
Tizzard fought back tears when saying: "It's unreal. It's the fourth day and the Irish have been winning everything - I was thinking our form is not as good as we imagined. Then Richard Johnson gives that brave horse that sort of ride and everything changes.
"When Might Bite came alongside, and might even have headed him, I thought oh, no, but then Richard was brilliant. You wouldn't tell him what to do, because he knew what he was going to do a week ago.
"He [Native River] wasn't quite right after Cheltenham last year [he was third in this race] and we couldn't get him going any earlier this season. We made a plan to give him one run at Newbury before coming here, but I was getting a bit jumpy at Christmas and thought we ought to run him then. However, we stuck to the plan and it's paid off.
"I came here at 17 and 18 years of age, and never thought I would win the [Timico Cheltenham] Gold Cup and I've just done it. If you ask me again I'll start crying again."
Tizzard's son and assistant, Joe, said: "That was fantastic. Dickie [Johnson] was in the right place at the right time all the way. Dickie knew what he was doing and set the fractions.
"We've had the perfect prep with the horse and had no excuses. It's gone to plan - although it's been a tough three days, and our horses have finished placed or unplaced rather than winning. It's such a tough place to win at. We had a shock win in the last race [33/1 winner Kilbricken Storm], but this was our best chance of the week."
RESULT - 3.30pm Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m 2f 70y £649,380
1 Native River (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Colin Tizzard 11st 10lb Richard Johnson 5/1
2 Might Bite (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb Nico de Boinville 4/1 FAV
3 Anibale Fly (FR) (Tongue Strap) Tony Martin, Ireland 11st 10lb Barry Geraghty 33/1
4 Road To Respect (IRE) (Hood) Noel Meade, Ireland 11st 10lb Sean Flanagan 9/1
5 Djakadam (FR) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Mr Patrick Mullins 25/1
6 Definitly Red (IRE) Brian Ellison 11st 10lb Danny Cook 8/1
7 Tea For Two Nick Williams 11st 10lb Lizzie Kelly 50/1
8 Edwulf (Tongue Strap) Joseph Patrick O'Brien, Ireland 11st 10lb Mr Derek O'Connor 20/1
9 American (FR) Harry Fry 11st 10lb Noel Fehily 25/1
FELL 2ND Bachasson (FR) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Danny Mullins 33/1
FELL 3 OUT Total Recall (IRE) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb David Mullins 14/1
PU Killultagh Vic (IRE) Willie Mullins, Ireland 11st 10lb Paul Townend 8/1
PU Saphir du Rheu (FR) (Tongue Strap) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies 66/1
PU Outlander (IRE) (Sheepskin C/P) Gordon Elliott, Ireland 11st 10lb Jack Kennedy 20/1
PU Our Duke (IRE) Jessica Harrington, Ireland 11st 10lb Robbie Power 9/2
Winner owned by Brocade Racing
Non-Runners: Double Shuffle (Self Cert, Not Eaten Up), Minella Rocco (Going), Shantou Flyer(Self Cert, Not Eaten Up)
Distances: 4½, 4, 4, 8, 18, 1½, 7, 18
Colin Tizzard - 6th winner at The Festival
Richard Johnson - 23rd success at The Festival
SECOND SUCCESS IN THE TIMICO CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP FOLLOWING LOOKS LIKE TROUBLE (2000)