Monday, February 25, 2019 - Colin Tizzard opened the doors of his Spurles Farm Stable in Milborne Port on the Dorset/Somerset border this morning to members of the media in a stable visit organised by Cheltenham Racecourse and gave updates on his leading contenders for The Festival™ presented by Magners next month (Tuesday, March 12 to Friday, March 15).
Tizzard, a former dairy farmer and now established as one of the leading Jump trainers in the country, has sent out over 650 winners under Rules and finished third in the 2017/18 Jump trainers' championship for the second season, amassing almost £2 million in prize money and a career-best tally of 79 winners.
That included success in Jump racing's Blue Riband event, the G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, courtesy of Native River, who bids to become the first horse since Best Mate (2002, 2003 & 2004) to defend his Gold Cup crown.
Tizzard has already saddled 69 winners this term and his team for The Festival boasts other established stars such as Thistlecrack, along with a talented pool of novice hurdlers and chasers.
The handler is set to launch a three-pronged assault on the feature race of the four-day meeting, the £625,000 G1 Cheltenham Gold Cup, with Native River and Thistlecrackbeing joined by the improving Elegant Escape on Friday, March 15.
Native River was a creditable four-length second to Bristol De Mai in the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on his seasonal debut in November, before finishing a staying-on third behind Clan Des Obeaux in the G1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
Tizzard is relishing the return to a left-handed, galloping track at Cheltenham with the nine-year-old son of Indian River, who was one of six horses from the yard to enjoy a racecourse gallop at Wincanton on Monday, February 18.
Discussing the defending champion, Tizzard said: "Native River is in good form. He got beat by a good horse at Haydock on his first start of the season and going into the King George, we were concerned about his performance at the track in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase [G1, 3m, finished third, 2015] where he was always looking to go out left-handed and he did exactly the same in the King George.
"Five fences from the finish in the King George, you thought he was going to be pulled up, but then he stayed on really strongly and, if the race had been another couple of furlongs, he could have been right up with them at the finishing line.
"The Gold Cup is a longer race at three miles and two furlongs and the King George is run 56 seconds faster than the Gold Cup, so that obviously brings Native River, with his stamina, right back into it. Most of his wins have come on left-handed tracks, but you cannot necessarily say that he doesn't act as well right-handed.
"He was alright at Wincanton in a recent racecourse gallop. I'm not going to say he was very good as he has never won a gallop on our uphill gallop at home in his life. He is just a stamina-laden horse and he looks fit. Looking at him this morning, he looks fine and we probably won't go for another away day with him.
"We'll probably school him on Thursday in the indoor school just for a bit of practice and then we will hold our nerve with him and hope Cheltenham put on plenty of water this week and then it rains, so we have nice heavy ground!
"We don't want Cheltenham being quick ground - we want to have it on the slow side. Last year, we only had one run with him before the Gold Cup which he won well. He was right on his game in the Gold Cup last term. We've got two runs into him this year, he's had a racecourse gallop and you can guarantee that Richard Johnson (regular jockey) will want to get out in front and make a pace of it which worked for us last year. It would be nice to have some company for him up front this time around as the more pace, the better. Native River is a thorough stayer.
"Presenting Percy [ante-post favourite for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup] is obviously a very good horse and connections have their reasons for only running him once. He is a very good horse and has been favourite all winter. I think there are at least half a dozen horses with a chance of winning the Gold Cup this year and it is a very open renewal as there is no Kauto Star, Denman or Best Mate in there. I think it will come down to stamina because three miles and two furlongs round Cheltenham, nothing is left to chance and it is a stamina race.
"Native River is not a slow horse and has won over two miles before. Heavier ground will slow some of the other horses in the race, but obviously not our lad. Ironically, we used to think Native River didn't necessarily like heavy ground earlier on in his career because he does have a beautiful, low action, but we know that softer ground will play to his strengths more than quicker ground. If Native River is on song, which he should be, he has got as good a chance as he had last year.
"Winning one Gold Cup is hard, to win two in a row, you need to be very good. It is a championship race and not many horses win back-to-back championship races. You need to be right on the day, but I'm happy with Native River coming into the race. We have not run the legs off him this winter and he should have plenty of petrol left for a spring campaign."
Thistlecrack has yet to run in a Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, with injury ruling the 11-year-old son of Kayf Tara out of the last two renewals of the contest. However, he has pleased Tizzard in two starts this term, with a third-placed effort in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park bettered by a creditable length and a half runner-up spot behind Clan Des Obeaux in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park. Connections immediately announced that Thistlecrack would not run again before Cheltenham and Tizzard has been pleased with the 2016 Stayers' Hurdle winner's trouble-free preparation.
"Thistlecrack is a cracking horse. He was an excellent hurdler and has won a Stayers' Hurdle at The Festival. He ran well in the King George and got close to Clan Des Obeaux. I think he has as much of a chance as anything else in the race. Thistlecrack has proved that he is good around Cheltenham, he is just a good horse. He is 11 years old, but he has been lightly-raced in recent seasons.
"I think Thistlecrack is probably a better horse going left-handed, but keeping him sound has always been the biggest issue and we didn't race him till he was seven.
"He is fine at the moment and won't do too much more, except for maybe having a school on Wednesday. We thought coming off the bend with Thistlecrack at Kempton Park that we were going to win as the only horse who was travelling well with him was Clan Des Obeaux, the rest were beat. We probably didn't need to kick on as quick as we did at Kempton if we had the race again, but that won't happen in the Gold Cup. He is in good form."
Improving seven-year-old Elegant Escape has shown this season that stamina is his forte, highlighted by a commanding performance to capture the G3 Coral Welsh National at Chepstow (3m 5f 110y) on December 27. A three-quarter length second to fellow Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Frodon, trained by Paul Nicholls, came in the G2 Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day, January 26, over an extended three miles and one furlong.
Tizzard believes the extra yardage in the three and a quarter-mile Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup will be a pivotal factor for the Dubai Destination gelding.
"Elegant Escape has won a Welsh National, finished second in a Ladbrokes Trophy and chased home Frodon at Cheltenham this season", commented Tizzard.
"He has done everything right, is a young, improving horse and off a rating of 162, he doesn't have to find much to figure in the Gold Cup. When he was second to Frodon the last day, the winner did pick up again in the closing stages, but significantly, we had got caught five or six lengths behind him at the top of the hill and then had to make up those lengths turning in, before his effort just petered out late on.
"My immediate thoughts after that was that the Welsh National might have taken a bit more out of him that we first thought. He has had six weeks off since and he looked very good on the gallops this week.
"Elegant Escape is a younger horse and he is still improving with every start. His last run was his highest-rated performance. He is a big, strong horse who is doing it at the moment."
Reflecting on his triumvirate for the Gold Cup, Tizzard added: "The betting would suggest in terms of my horses in the race that Native River holds the best chance of winning. My opinion is that Native River has been there and done it so arguably he does have the better chance.
"But Thistlecrack and Elegant Escape, on their given day, have a great chance in the race. To have three lovely staying chasers rated in the high 160s is everything you want. Gold Cup horses are almost like freaks. You have to look after them and make sure they are all fit and well, but you also need a huge amount of luck."
Recalling last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup victory with Native River, Tizzard said: "I first went to Cheltenham as a 19-year-old and watched the Gold Cup in awe of the whole situation, never dreaming that one day I would train a Gold Cup winner."
The trainer is also set to be well represented in the other championship races at The Festival with Vision Des Flos a possible runner in the feature race on day one, Champion Day, Tuesday, March 12, of The Festival™ presented by Magners, the £350,000 G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle over two miles.
A game winner of the G2 National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell Park on Sunday, the six-year-old son of Balko could either head for the two-mile hurdling championship or the Coral Cup (Wednesday, March 13), a handicap hurdle over two miles and five furlongs.
Tizzard continued: "Vision Des Flos won the National Spirit nicely at Fontwell yesterday. He is a lovely horse and if he had not unseated his rider on his first chase start earlier this season, then I think we would have gone chasing for the rest of the year. As it was, we decided to revert back to hurdling as he was only a five-year-old at the time and we have run him in all the big two and two and a half-mile hurdles. Yesterday was his easiest race this term and he travelled supremely well throughout. I'm sure the Champion Hurdle will be run at a frantic pace and he travels well enough to run in those two-mile races, so we wouldn't be afraid to go for the Champion Hurdle with him.
"There are probably at least five horses higher rated than him in the race, but we will make a decision nearer the time. He is also entered in the Coral Cup, so it is something we don't need to decide today."
Another horse with multiple entries is Fox Norton, who similarly runs in the colours of Ann & Alan Potts Limited. A head second in the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Festival 2017, the nine-year-old son of Lando has reached the placings in two comeback runs at Ascot this year, latterly when third behind the impressive Cyrname in the G1 Ascot Chase on February 19.
The £400,000 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Wednesday, March 13) or the £350,000 G1 Ryanair Chase (St Patrick's Thursday, March 14) are under consideration for Fox Norton, with Tizzard seemingly leaning towards the latter two and a half-mile event.
He revealed: "Fox Norton is slipping under the radar a little bit. I thought he ran a lovely race at Ascot in the Ascot Chase. He jumped a bit flat and sometimes he has a little bit of back trouble, so he had to have a little bit of medication in his pelvis.
"I think the Ryanair Chase is the plan at the moment. It all hinges around Altior and if Altior lines up in the Champion Chase, then we might go for the Ryanair, but we will keep the door open for the time being. It was his second run back and he was much calmer last time. He was only beaten a couple of lengths by Waiting Patiently which is good form. I think he is more of a two and a half-miler and ground-wise, he is probably better off on softer ground."
Tizzard is double-handed in the feature hurdle on St Patrick's Thursday, March 14, the £325,000 G1 Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle courtesy of West Approach and Kilbricken Storm.
The former has chased home ante-post favourite Paisley Park in his last two starts in the G1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December and the G2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day.
Kilbricken Storm captured the G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at last year's Festival and reverts back to hurdles after a disappointing performance at Newbury over fences in G2 company in December.
Discussing the duo, Tizzard said: "West Approach is a decent horse and has finished second to Paisley Park the last twice. We went back hurdling because over fences, he just used to frighten himself and would jump too high.
"We've had a go twice at Paisley Park and I've been pleased with both of his runs. West Approach will run in the Stayers' Hurdle and we will sit on the tail of Paisley Park this time around. He has plenty of pace for a three-miler and if we could cover him up a bit then he would have a good chance in the Stayers'.
"Kilbricken Storm is a bit of a forgotten horse. He was very good with Elixir De Nutz, Master Debonair and Native River at Wincanton last week. He finished right upsides them and was brilliant. We started off this season going novice chasing and he was alright at Ffos Las first time up, but at Newbury he ran no sort of race and he had to have six weeks off after that race.
"Since we've started back, he has been very straightforward and he runs in the Stayers' Hurdle too. He won the Albert Bartlett quite easily last year and I've been very happy with him. He was the one I took out of my Wincanton gallop and came out of that fresh as a button - he's in lovely form. I'm not too worried about him not having a run over hurdles this season as he's had two runs and a racecourse gallop, so we just have to hold our nerve a bit."
Tizzard's talented team for The Festival, likely to number 25 compared to 21 last year, also features exciting novice hurdler Elixir De Nutz, who is on target for the opening race of the meeting, the G1 £125,000 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle over an extended two miles. The five-year-old son of Al Namix is unbeaten in his last three starts, which culminated with a first G1 success in the Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown Park on January 5. A perennial front-runner, those tactics will again be adopted in the two-mile curtain-raiser.
"Elixir De Nutz is in good form. He was absolutely brilliant in a gallop at Wincanton last Monday. We could have another little away day, but we might leave him be as he looks very fit. His form stands up to anybody else's in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. He pulls quite hard and goes well from the front, so we will be making the running on him."
Tizzard also issued a positive bulletin on classy chaser Lostintranslation who is earmarked as a long-term Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup prospect, but this year takes the next step on the path to stardom in the £150,000 G1 JLT Novices' Chase (St Patrick's Thursday, March 14) over two miles and four furlongs.
The seven-year-old son of Flemensfirth defeated the Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil over course and distance on New Year's Day in the G2 Betbright Dipper Novices' Chase before finishing second to the same rival in the G1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown Park earlier this month.
A return to Cheltenham will suit the gelding according to Tizzard, who commented: "Lostintranslation was second to Defi Du Seuil at Sandown last time and that is good form. He is just a lovely horse and he also has winning form round Cheltenham and the track will suit him. I'm sure they'll go a good pace, he can jump off pretty handy and he is a big, strong horse.
"Whatever he does this year, I see him as a Gold Cup horse for next year - he is more about stamina than speed, but the JLT Novices' Chase is going to be the target this year. He was slightly done for speed at Sandown, but that won't happen at Cheltenham because there will be plenty more horses in the race and the stamina should come into play a bit more - he is a lovely horse for the future."
Other horses mentioned by Tizzard at today's media event were:-
The Russian Doyen - "He has won two starts this term and he is a beautiful horse. Looking at him now, that is the biggest and strongest that I have seen him. He is on the improve, and the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase (Tuesday, March 12) could be the race with him."
Master Debonair - "He is well-bred and goes for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Wednesday, March 13). He has won two of his three bumpers and did it well at Cheltenham last time. He was very good in a gallop at Wincanton. He won't need to do any more work now.
"He has won on autumn ground at Cheltenham, but spring ground will be fine. He is not a big horse and has form in the bag - whether it is good enough is anyone's guess. Hopefully, we will aim for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle with him next year - he is a good horse."
Ultragold - "We have had a brainwave with him that we are going to run in the Glenfarclas Cross Country (Wednesday, March 13). It seemed a good prep race for Tiger Roll last year before the Grand National and that is our thinking with him. We have run him at Cheltenham for the last two or three years and he's done quite well, but it has always been a good prep for him before Aintree. He is in the Ultima and tomorrow we'll put him in the Cross Country as I think he has got a better chance of winning that race. We will take him up to Cheltenham to school over the Cross Country fences in the next couple of weeks to school, then Ultragold will head to the Grand National."
Molineaux - "I was disappointed he got beat at Exeter last time, but he will be entered for two races at Newbury this weekend as he probably won't get into the handicap races at Cheltenham off his current mark of 131. We don't want to leave him until Cheltenham and he doesn't get in. It probably wouldn't hurt him to have another run quickly too and on better ground, you can usually do it. The idea is if he wins at Newbury and comes out the race fine, he would have a penalty which would make sure we get into Cheltenham."
Cyrus Darius - "He had ulcers which explained why he ran disappointingly at Cheltenham last time. He seems to be fine now and we could run him this weekend just to see where we are with him. He is a very good horse who has very good previous form. We will have a go at some of the big festivals with him just in case we can get him right again so the Coral Cup or County Hurdle are possibles."
Russian Hawk - "He got beat at Ascot the other day, but is a fantastic looking horse and he will be exciting to go chasing with next year. I would maybe run him in the Albert Bartlett, but the owners would like to run him at Sandown Park on the Saturday before Cheltenham. He wants a stamina test, so he would want it softer than good ground. If it came up soft or heavy at Sandown then we would go there, but if it came up good ground, then we might wait and head to Cheltenham where he might run into a place in the Albert Bartlett. He is on the improve, and is a lovely, big horse."
Mister Malarky - "He has been a revelation over fences and is rated 148 so he is good enough to run in any of the big novice chases at Cheltenham, including the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase (Wednesday, March 13). The ground was quite quick at Ascot the last day when he won, so hopefully the ground will be softer at Cheltenham. He jumps very well and is a thorough stayer. The owners are interested in the RSA. He is also in the National Hunt Chase (Tuesday, March 12) over four miles, but at the Cheltenham Festival, all of the leading Irish amateurs usually have rides for the big Irish trainers, so finding the right jockey for the amateur race is definitely something that comes into play. We had exactly the same conversation when Native River ran in the four-miler and Mister Malarky is similar in that he is a horse who stays very well. The four-miler people say is an easier race than the RSA, but I don't think it is as some very good horses have run in it and have then been damn good three-milers the year after. It might come down in the end to whether we can get a top professional on Mister Malarky and if we can't then the RSA could be where he ends up."
Slate House - "He needs a good run and he might end up running at Aintree rather than Cheltenham. He broke a bone on the back of his knee towards the back-end of last season and spent two months in his stable, so that is why he has been a bit slower to get going this term and it takes them a while to get back to where they were. If he did go to Cheltenham, he is in both the Arkle and JLT, but I think we will run at Newbury on Saturday and then see where we are."
Looking ahead to The Festival, Tizzard, continued: "I might come over as being very cool about Cheltenham, but you have to realise that for me, it is just lovely to be involved in and playing this game. We have some beautiful horse for the meeting this year, including some lovely novice chasers.
"I have Joe [Tizzard, son] and Kim [daughter] on site, so if I want a day off I can take one, but I will be on site every day before now and Cheltenham that's for sure! We look to have a really nice team and we just need to hold our nerve. All the staff know Cheltenham is around the corner and there is added pressure, but we've just got to do what usually do and if our horses are good enough, they're good enough.
"We just need to hold on a bit, our horses have been racing all year, they've got form in the bag and they are fit, well and healthy and that's all you can hope for. It is everyone's dream to have a runner in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, let alone to win it. I am proud as proud to have won a Gold Cup. It is everything that I ever dreamed of doing.
"I was a farmer for 30 years, the cows have left now and this has taken over full-time. I don't know if not having the cows now has made it any easier, but I just don't know how we used to train horses and have the cows. I think the busier you are, the better you are. I don't miss the cows at all, but I went to the market last Friday and bought 49 beef cattle which gave me a lot of pleasure. They look nice and we'll carry on farming, but it will be beef cattle and you don't have to milk them 720 times a year, so they'll be easier! In the summer, the beef cattle will look lovely, so that will be fantastic."
Husband and wife team Garth and Ann Broom, the duo behind the Brocade Racing Club which owns Native River, are keeping their fingers that the Indian River gelding can once again land the sport's most prestigious Jump contest.
Garth Broom revealed: "We are looking forward to the Gold Cup and returning to a venue which is of course so special to all of us. Native River will be far better suited by Cheltenham and you could argue that Haydock and Kempton are two courses that are never going to suit him.
"The ground was fairly fast on both occasions and so he has run well in defeat this year with things not being in his favour.
"To have a runner in the Gold Cup was special, let alone winning it! We are good friends with the owners of both Thistlecrack and Elegant Escape and it is great for Colin to have three contenders for the Gold Cup.
"Native River looks his usual relaxed self and he is a very tough horse. Colin has looked after him and with these top horses, you can only go to the well so many times and that is why we try not to over-race him during the season as these horses have to put everything in to win these G1s.
"There are some talented horses in the race this year and any of around half-a-dozen horses could win. It is a very open renewal, but Native River has proved himself in the Gold Cup.
"Ideally we would like some softer ground, but he was third in the 2017 Gold Cup when it was good ground and he doesn't have a soft ground action. I think soft ground would just inconvenience his opposition. The best thing we ever did was running him in the National Hunt Chase over four miles as we knew he'd stay."
John Snook, owner of Thistlecrack is looking forward to seeing his charge finally run in the G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, having missed the last two renewals through injury.
He commented: "Colin seems really pleased with Thistlecrack and it will be very exciting to see him line up in a Gold Cup for the first time. I've always wanted a horse to run in the Gold Cup, and this will be the third season we have tried with him, and I will probably never get another chance.
"I was delighted with his run at Kempton. It was just nice for the horse to run such a good race and make it a competitive race. He and Clan Des Obeaux left the rest of the field for dead, and he just found one too good.
"Everyone is writing him off because of his age, as he is getting on, but I could not see too much wrong with that performance. It was about as good a performance as when he won the race two years ago. If all the others are Gold Cup prospects, then bring it on."
Snook also owns Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle prospect West Approach, who has chased home ante-post favourite Paisley Park in two runs this term.
He added: "West Approach has finished a good second to Paisley Park in his last two starts and hopefully he can run another good race in the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival."
Colin Tizzard talks to the press
Colin Tizzard media visit - Monday, February 25, 2019
Spurles Farm, Milborne Port on the Dorset/Somerset border
Synopsis - Colin Tizzard is now established as one of the leading Jump trainers in the country.
He has sent out over 650 winners under Rules, and finished third in the Jump trainers' championship for the second successive season in 2017/18, with almost £2 million in prize money and a career-best tally of 79 winners.
The highlight came at The Festival 2018 when Native River won the feature race of the four-day meeting, the G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Tizzard is on course to beat his best total following 68 successes so far this season up to and including Sunday, February 24.
He has a strong team for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup next month, with Native River the defending champion and being joined by Thistlecrack and Elegant Escape.
Born - January 7, 1956.
Background - The second son of Leslie and Marjorie Tizzard, Colin grew up on the family farm in Milborne Port on the Dorset/Somerset border, enjoying hunting, shooting and fishing.
Dairy farming and horses have always been his passions and he has made a success of both enterprises, though he announced towards the end of 2018 that the dairy farming has run its course.
Colin was a member of the Pony Club before riding with some success in point-to-points and later under-Rules as an amateur.
He started training two point-to-point horses in 1995 for his son Joe to ride.
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.
Cue Card was trained by Colin throughout his career, which last for eight seasons and yielded almost £1.5 million in prize money.
Joe, who rode more than 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, who is also an assistant trainer, are very much involved in the 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, which has been expanded again since.
First winner under Rules - The Jogger, Wincanton, May 7, 1996
The Festival™ presented by Magners wins (7):
2010: 1 - Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Cue Card)
2011: 1 - Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (Oiseau De Nuit)
2013: 2 - Ultima Handicap Chase (Golden Chieftain), Ryanair Chase (Cue Card)
2016: 1 - Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle (Thistlecrack)
2018: 2 - Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Kilbricken Storm), Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (Native River)
Colin Tizzard's current entries at The Festival™ presented by Magners
Champion Day - Tuesday, March 12 (Old Course)
1.30pm £125,000 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y
Beaufort West, Elixir De Nutz
2.10pm £175,000 Racing Post Arkle Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 199y
2.50pm £110,000 Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f
Mister Malarky, Molineaux, Robinsfirth, Royal Vacation, Sizing Codelco, Sizing Granite, Ultragold
3.30pm £450,000 Unibet Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y
Pingshou, Vision Des Flos
4.10pm £120,000 OLBG Mares' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 3f 200y
4.50pm £70,000 Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed) 2m 4f 44y
Molineaux, Slate House, The Russian Doyen
5.30pm £125,000 National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase) (Grade 2) 3m 7f 147y
Ladies Day - Wednesday, March 13 (Old Course & Cross Country)
1.30pm £125,000 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 5f
2.10pm £175,000 RSA Insurance Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 3m 80y
Drinks Interval, Mister Malarky, White Moon
2.50pm £100,000 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 5f
Cyrus Darius, Highest Sun, Pingshou, Storm Home, Vison des Flos
3.30pm £400,000 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 199y
4.10pm £65,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f 37y
entries close February 26
4.50pm £80,000 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 87y
5.30pm £75,000 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) 2m 87y
entries close February 26
St Patrick's Thursday - Thursday, March 14 (New Course)
1.30pm £150,000 JLT Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 2m 3f 166y
2.10pm £100,000 Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) 2m 7f 213y
Buckhorn Timothy, Padleyourowncanoe, Shoal Bay
2.50pm £350,000 Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f 127y
3.30pm £325,000 Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y
Kilbricken Storm, West Approach
4.10pm £110,000 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Chase) (Grade 3) 2m 4f 127y
Shanahan's Turn, Silverhow, Sizing Granite, The Russian Doyen, Ultragold
4.50pm £90,000 Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 179y
entries close February 26
5.30pm £70,000 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase 3m 2f
Quite By Chance, Shanahan's Turn
Gold Cup Day - Friday, March 15 (New Course)
1.30pm £125,000 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 179y
2.10pm £100,000 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 179y
Cyrus Darius, Pingshou, Vision Des Flos
2.50pm £125,000 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y
Darlac, Rockpoint, Russian Hawk
3.30pm £625,000 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m 2f 70y
Elegant Escape, Native River, Thistlecrack
4.10pm £45,000 St James's Place Foxhunter Chase 3m 2f 70y
entries close February 26
4.50pm £110,000 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 62y
5.30pm £70,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (0-145) 2m 4f 56y
Five of the Tizzard best
Native River (IRE)
Born: May 4, 2010
Breeding: ch g Indian River (FR) - Native Mo (IRE) (Be My Native (USA))
Owner: Brocade Racing
*Bidding to become the first back-to-back winner of the G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup since Best Mate (2002, 2003, 2004).
*Two starts so far this season, finishing second (beaten 4l) behind Bristol De Mai in the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on November 24 and third (btn 13.5l) in the G1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
*Should have run in the G2 Denman Chase at Newbury, just as he did last season, but did not line up after race was rearranged due to the venue for the replacement race, Ascot, being right-handed.
Race record: Starts: 23; Wins: 11; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 6; Win & Place Prize Money: £913,572
Born: March 29, 2008
Breeding: b g Kayf Tara (GB) - Ardstown (GB) (Ardross (GB))
Owner: John and Heather Snook
*Aiming to become oldest winner of G1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup since 12-year-old What A Myth triumphed in 1969.
*Has been kept fresh since finishing second (btn 1.5l) to Clan Des Obeaux in the G1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on December 26, a race he won impressively as a novice in 2016.
*Having missed the second half of last season due to a stress fracture, he returned this term with a good third behind Bristol De Mai in the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park.
*He was the easy winner of the G1 Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle at The Festival in 2016.
Race record: Starts: 23; Wins: 13; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £732,631
Elegant Escape (IRE)
Born: April 1, 2012
Breeding: b g Dubai Destination (USA) - Graineuaile (IRE) (Orchestra (GB))
Owner: John Romans
*Has improved with every start this season and was a strong-finishing second last time out in the G2 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day.
*Earlier in the campaign, he filled the same position in the G3 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury before justifying favouritism in the G3 Welsh Grand National (3m 5f 110y) under 11st 8lb at Chepstow on December 27.
*Finished third behind Presenting Percy in last season's G1 RSA Insurance Novices' Chase at The Festival.
Race record: Starts: 17; Wins: 6; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £285,927
Elixir De Nutz (FR)
Born: May 12, 2014
Breeding: gr g Al Namix (FR) - Nutz (FR) (Turgeon (USA))
Owner: Terry Warner
*Front runner who is as short as 10/1 for the opening G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at The Festival on the back of a gutsy victory in the G1 Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown Park on January 5.
*Dual winner over hurdles at Cheltenham already this season, including in the G2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle at The November Meeting and a non-graded contest over two miles and a furlong at The International in December.
Race record: Starts: 7; Wins: 4; 2nd: 1; 3rd: - Win & Place Prize Money: £65,790
Born: May 16, 2012
Breeding: b g Flemensfirth (USA) - Falika (FR) (Hero's Honor (USA))
Owner: Taylor & O'Dwyer
*Second favourite behind Defi Du Seuil for the G1 JLT Novices' Chase on St Patrick's Thursday, March 14.
*Rallied gamely to beat Defi Du Seuil in the G2 BetBright Dipper Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, though he could not confirm that form when going down by three quarters of a length to the same rival in the G1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown Park on February 2.
*Staying-on seventh at The Festival in the 2018 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Race record: Starts: 10; Wins: 2; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £68,754
The Festival™ presented by Magners 2019 race programme
Champion Day - Tuesday, March 12 (Old Course) - prize money £1,175,000
Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y £125,000
2.10pm Racing Post Arkle Novices' Chase (Grade1) 1m 7f 199y £175,000
2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f £110,000
3.30pm Unibet Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y £450,000
4.10pm OLBG Mares' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 3f 200y £120,000
(registered as the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle)
4.50pm Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed) (0-145) 2m 4f 44y £70,000
5.30pm National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase) (Grade 2) 3m 7f 147y £125,000
Ladies Day - Wednesday, March 13 (Old Course & Cross Country) - prize money £1,020,000
Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.30pm Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 5f £125,000
(registered as the Baring Bingham)
2.10pm RSA Insurance Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 3m 80y £175,000
2.50pm Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 5f £100,000
3.30pm Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 199y £400,000
4.10pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f 37y £65,000
4.50pm Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 87y £80,000
(registered as the Fred Winter)
5.30pm Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) 2m 87y £75,000
St Patrick's Thursday - Thursday, March 14 (New Course) - prize money £1,195,000
Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.30pm JLT Novices' Chase (Grade 1) (registered as the Golden Miller) 2m 3f 166y £150,000
2.10pm Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle) (Grade 3) 2m 7f 213y £100,000
2.50pm Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) (registered as the Festival Trophy) (Grade 1)2m 4f 127y £350,000
3.30pm Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y £325,000
4.10pm Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Chase) (Grade 3) 2m 4f 127y £110,000
4.50pm Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 179y £90,000
5.30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase 3m 2f £70,000
Gold Cup Day - Friday, March 15 (New Course) - prize money £1,200,000
Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 179y £125,000
2.10pm Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 179y £100,000
2.50pm Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y £125,000
(registered as the Spa Novices' Hurdle)
3.30pm Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m 2f 70y £625,000
4.10pm St James's Place Foxhunter Chase 3m 2f 70y £45,000
4.50pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 62y £110,000
5.30pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (0-145) 2m 4f 56y £70,000
Cheltenham Racecourse is situated in Prestbury on the northern outskirts of the historic spa town of Cheltenham. The Home of Jump Racing, Cheltenham Racecourse is the venue for the world's pre-eminent Jump meeting. The Festival™ presented by Magners, which happens in March over four days every year, next takes place from Tuesday, March 12, to Friday, March 15, 2019 inclusive and tickets are on sale. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Cotswolds, Cheltenham Racecourse is a stunning natural arena and offers the highest-quality action throughout the Jump season.
More information is available at www.cheltenham.co.uk and through Twitter (@CheltenhamRaces), Facebook www.facebook.com/thehomeofjumpracing and Instagram (@CheltenhamRaces).
About The Jockey Club
Cheltenham is part of The Jockey Club which stages thrilling sporting occasions including The Randox Health Grand National, The Festival™ presented by Magners and The Investec Derby. Millions of people every year enjoy the special experiences The Jockey Club offers through racing, music, food and entertainment. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny made goes back into British Racing to help the sport thrive. The Jockey Club was founded in 1750 and today is the largest commercial group in Britain's second-biggest spectator sport, operating 15 racecourses nationwide, The National Stud, Jockey Club Estates, Jockey Club Catering, Jockey Club Live and the charity, Racing Welfare. For more information, visit www.thejockeyclub.co.uk
If you need any information about racing at Cheltenham, please contact: Sophia Dale, Communications Manager - Jockey Club Racecourses South West 01242 537 683 firstname.lastname@example.org