Cheltenham Festival 2019: Native River heads up three-strong Gold Cup team for Tizzard

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COLIN TIZZARD reckons Native River has what it takes to win back-to-back Cheltenham Gold Cups.

No horse has successfully defended the title since Best Mate recorded the last of his three consecutive victories in 2004.

Tizzard paraded his three Gold Cup runners on Monday morning
PA:Press Association

Recent history may be against Native River, who has been defeated in the Betfair Chase and King George VI Chase so far this season.

But Tizzard believes his stable star will arrive at the Cheltenham Festival in peak form.

He said: “He is a Gold Cup winner that got beat by a very good horse around Haydock first time.

“When he went out in the Feltham (Novice Chase at Kempton) in 2015 he was always looking to go out left-handed, and he’s done exactly the same in the King George.


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“Five out, you thought he was going to pull up, but he stayed on really strongly – and on the line, you would say if had another two furlongs he would be right up there with them.

“The Gold Cup is three miles two – the King George is three miles.

“The King George is run 56 seconds faster than the Gold Cup – and that brings Native River, with his stamina, right back into it.”

He added: “There are young horses coming through, but that doesn’t concern me at all.


“We’ve had a lovely preparation with him, and not run the legs off him all winter.

“The race will be a stamina race – and if he is on song, which he should be, he has got as good a chance as he did last year.

“I hope Cheltenham put on plenty of water this week, and then it rains like hell, so it will be nice and heavy ground.

“We don’t want Cheltenham being quick . We want to have it on the slow side for all horses – so all these beautiful horses racing on it come back fine.

“He has got a beautiful low action, but he is better on softer ground than quicker ground.”

Native River is back to defend his Gold Cup crown
Reuters

Tizzard warned punters not to dismiss his other two Gold Cup contenders, Thistlecrack and Elegant Escape.

He continued: “Thistlecrack is a cracking horse. He has won a King George and he got quite close at Kempton to Clan Des Obeaux (this season).

“He is 11-years-old, and you can’t get away from that, but he has proved he has good form round Cheltenham.

“Elegant Escape has won a Welsh National and been second in a Ladbrokes Trophy. He has done everything right and is a young, improving horse.

“He has looked very good on the gallops this week, and he is the one that is still improving. His last run was his top rated one – and you must not ignore him.”

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