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As Thistlecrack and Gold Cup hero Native River head to the Betfair Chase, Steve Jones spoke to the Tizzards about their operation and season ahead

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As Thistlecrack and Gold Cup hero Native River head to the Betfair Chase, Steve Jones spoke to the Tizzards about their operation and season ahead

Category : Betting , Horse Racing

THE Tizzards are beefing up their challenge for National Hunt racing’s biggest prizes.
Jumping’s number one training family fire both Gold Cup hero Native River and Thistlecrack at today’s Betfair Chase – the first leg of the Jockey’s Club’s £1million bonus.
Colin and Joe Tizzard run the stable from their Dorset baseGetty Images – Getty
It’s a race they milked with old favourite Cue Card. He won Haydock’s Grade 1 contest three times
before heading off for a well-earned retirement.
The old boy’s remarkable story was even told in a book after he was handed his pipe and slippers.
He’s still very much part of the furniture at the Tizzard’s stable, greeting visitors from his usual box nearest the door of one of the impressive barns that house one of the country’s most powerful teams. But
there have been big changes.
Most of the diary cows – Colin’s life before racing took over – have gone. The remaining young stock will head to market in the spring to be replaced by a beef herd so dad, ex-jockey son Joe and daughter Kim can focus solely on harvesting winners.

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Tizzard said: “The cows have run their course. We’re not giving up farming – we’ll have beef cattle but we won’t have to milk twice a day. It’s already made life easier.
“Joe’s name will be in the trainer’s licence in the next few years, no doubt, and Kim’s a massive part of it all.
“I’d like to think we could take Colin off and just put Tizzards – that’s what we are.”
Joe was champion conditional jockey when attached to Paul Nicholls’ yard not too far from the Tizzard base on the border between Somerset and Dorset.

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After retiring from the saddle with more than 600 winners in the bag he has been assistant to his dad as well as overseeing the dairy farm.
The importance of the cows is not lost on him but nor is how crucial it is to keep building on the success of the horses in recent years.
He said: “We’ve sold the dairy cows to concentrate on the racing. We’re all committed to train as many winners as we can – trying to train another Gold Cup winner.
“The farm put us where we are – no two ways about it – but it got to the stage where it needed investment. It was dragging me away a bit.”
Before being dragged off to saddle another winner at Plumpton, Joe revealed how much he is looking forward to Native River taking on Might Bite today in the Betfair Chase. The pair fought out one of the great Cheltenham finishes in March and this promises to be just round two in what could become the sort of rivalry that has jumps fans twitching in their tweed.
Joe said: “It was a hell of a duel with Might Bite in the Gold Cup. I’m glad we came out on top but it was a bloody good race to watch. We really enjoyed watching it.
“It was good to see Might Bite bounce back and slaughter the rest at Aintree because it franks the form even more.
“It would be nice to have Native River and Might Bite competing all the time. It would be great for racing and good for us. We have massive respect for him but we’re not going to hide away from him.
Native River beat off Might Bite in a gruelling Gold Cup last MarchGetty Images – Getty
“It’s a cracking race to start the season.
“It’s always been the plan to go straight to Haydock. He’s been back in since the middle of July and hasn’t missed a day.
“We could have probably run him again after the Gold Cup last year. He came out of it really well but he just jarred himself up a bit the year before and we didn’t want to take any risks again as we think he’s capable of going back and winning another.”
If Native River does hold on to his Gold Cup crown in March at least the racecourse bars will know what they’re in for in the following hours.
Colin chuckled: “We had a hell of a time in the bars at Cheltenham. We drank all the ordinary coloured champagne then we had that pink stuff that costs a fortune.
“I wanted to stay there – they were doing the re-runs – I didn’t want to go home.
“For me the Gold Cup is the biggest accolade I could ever have. It’s the biggest most beautiful race I know – and we’ve won it. It’s everything we’ve ever dreamed of.
“You never know where life’s going to take you – horses are fantastic creatures they take you anywhere.”
Today two of them will take them on the journey north to Haydock. It’s a measure of how far the Tizzard’s stable has come that they have two of the five Betfair Chase runners.

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Thistlecrack looked to be heading for the top of the chasing tree when defeating stablemate Cue Card in the 2016 King George as a novice the season after running away with the Stayers’ Hurdle.
Injury halted his progress and he’s only been seen three times since but Joe warned punters not to write off the 10-year-old.
He said: “We were always fighting a battle with Thistlecrack last year physically. We thought he ran a really good race in the King George – we started to think he was coming back.
“He was sore coming out of it and had a stress fracture of his hind leg.
Joe Tizzard has told punters not to forget Thistlecrack just yetPA:Press Association
“He’s been back in since the beginning of July and could have run three weeks ago – we’ve just been waiting for the ground to come right. He’s ready to go.
“It’s been frustrating not getting Thistlecrack to a Gold Cup. We were so excited about running him in it, especially after he won the King George, but that’s horses. We still think we have one more chance with him and hopefully we will get him there.
“Obviously, the question is are we ever going to get back the old Thistlecrack? At home we think we think he’s virtually there. He’s working particularly well and looks well but it’s just whether or not he can do it on the course. Fingers crossed he will.”
With impressive young horses like Ladbrokes Trophy hope Elegant Escape, Kilbricken Storm,
Lostintranslation, Slate House, Eldorado Allen, Master Debonair and Elixir De Nutz – to name just a few – you can bet punters will be talking about the Tizzards for many years.
Some might say until the cows come home.


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