Colin Tizzard has gone from farmer to Master-Trainer in a short space of time, and Cue Card continues to be the stable’s flagbearer after 6-years in the limelight. However, the emergence of Thistlecrack and Native River as high-class 3-mile chasers could see him head to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March with 3 genuine chances of winning National Hunt’s Blue Riband event.
Meanwhile, as the stable has also been boosted in numbers by the arrival of the majority of the Alan Potts’ owned horses, instantly recognisable in the colours once carried by Sizing Europe, it has set its sights on plenty of big-race targets before then. So, let’s take a look at what Tizzard has to say about some of his stable stars.
Won his third Betfair Chase by 15-lengths from Coneygree and, though that rival is expected to give him more to do in the King George on Boxing Day, he fully deserves to be favourite to follow-up last year’s success in the race. Victory there would see him aimed at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and winning both races would net connections the £1 Million bonus that they went agonisingly close to winning last season.
Didn’t really catch the eye when winning a maiden hurdle at Chepstow, but this 4-year-old impressed when winning a novice hurdle at Ascot. He may well win more hurdle races but, whether he does or doesn’t, he looks sure to make an exciting chaser next season or the season after when he fills his impressive frame.
Rated 167, Tizzard trained him to be an impressive winner of the Schloer Chase on his first start for him. Sustained a cut there and won’t be seen again until the New Year, but could well be a genuine Champion Chase contender come March.
Beaten just four lengths by Shantou Village on his seasonal debut, but was struggling with his wind when falling next time. Had a wind-operation to improve his breathing, and a novice chase or handicap should be within his capabilities when he returns.
Did Big Race Bookie Busters fans a nice turn when winning the Hennessey Gold Cup, and he may now take in the Welsh National before the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Could easily win graded chases though if the handicapper raises his mark too high for him to be competitive in handicaps. Him and jockey Richard Johnson are made for each other.
QUITE BY CHANCE
Considered to be a bit of a Wincanton specialist up to this season, but has run two brilliant races at Ascot this season. Might find a mark of 147 difficult to win off, but only 7 so could still find a little bit of improvement.
Rated 140 over hurdles, he hasn’t been seen since January 2015. Set to embark on a novice chase campaign soon, with 3-miles on soft ground expected to be his optimum conditions.
Looks an out-and-out stayer, and did well to win a handicap off top-weight last-time. The slower pace and stamina test of one of the Nationals could suit him ideally.
Working his way back down to the mark off which he won a Galway Plate off, and 2½-miles on good ground around a right-handed track are probably his ideal conditions. Expected to win a decent pot at some point this season after having a wind-operation.
Already rated above 150 over fences, and the stable have earmarked him as a contender for the big spring festivals.
His 11-length second to Fox Norton didn’t look that special at the time, but the winner has won even more impressively since in a better grade – and this one must surely have a 2-mile handicap in him after not seeming to stay further next time.
Failed to place in the Hennessey for a third year running this time, and probably needs the handicapper to drop him a few pounds before he’s really competitive in a good handicap. Won a valuable-handicap at Kempton last year though, and a repeat bid is now his likely his major target.
The 2016 World Hurdle winner has already won three novice chases already this season at long odds-on, and connections are keen to give him plenty of practice on route to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, for which he is already favourite. May be kept apart from Cue Card and Native River until then, especially as he seems to having the staying novice division at his mercy.