Joe Tizzard: “Fox Norton is odds-on favourite and he deserves to be”
Former jockey discusses Thistlecrack and this weekend’s runners
He’s come out of last week’s race really well. He looks sharper, and he’s gone straight back into work.
We can’t afford to miss a beat with him and we haven’t. He came out of the race so well that we’ve been able to kick straight on with him.
I think we’ll see the real Thistlecrack at Kempton, I really do.
For two and a half miles at Newbury he looked every bit his old self. He travelled, he jumped, and he looked great, but then he just got a bit tired.
He’ll have a couple of hard weeks now and I’m sure he’s going to run a massive race in the King George.
We’re not used to him losing. Over the last two years apart from that one race behind Many Clouds he’s won every race.
And even on Friday when he came to two out I thought he was going to quicken away, but he didn’t but that’s fine because ultimately it’s all about March for this horse.
He’ll be ready to run a big race in the King George and then it will be all about the Gold Cup and we want to get him there to be fully on song that day.
Battle of Ideas
It was a nice performance to win at Plumpton on Monday and Harry Cobden was chuffed to bits with him. He’s come out of the race lovely.
He’s a horse that we’ve always said was going to progress and this was the next step. He definitely looked the part and the form looks strong.
It will be interesting to see what the handicapper gives him.
We have various options, we can stick to a novice hurdle, or go into a handicap or even step him up in class, but I suspect we’ll stick to novice hurdle company and run with a penalty.
Trainer of the Year Award
Dad was really proud to win the Horserace Writers and Photographers Jumps Trainer of the Year Award.
It’s the first award of that type that he’s won and he was thrilled as it reflects what we’ve all achieved.
I was chatting to Luke Harvey at Wincanton on Thursday, and he said the same thing, as it was the first time that he’d won an award of this kind, winning the Broadcaster of the Year Award.
It really meant a lot to Luke to win, and deservedly so, and it meant a huge amount to Dad, and to all of us, to win Jump Trainer of the Year.
It was a cracking first run at Cheltenham in a bumper as he’s a big horse that wouldn’t be a bumper type.
From day one he’s schooled very well and this track will suit him. He’s a big, strong boy and as nice a young horse as we’ve got.
We could have left him for next week at Cheltenham but he’s in such tremendous form and it’s such a prestigious race that we’ve decided to go for it, particularly as he’s won a Tolworth Hurdle over two miles around Sandown.
We could have gone for the easier option at Cheltenham but we wouldn’t necessarily learn anything from going around there and perhaps winning on the bridle. We need to know what trip we’re going to aim him at this season and until you take on the best then you don’t know.
We gave him a school this morning and he’s bucking and kicking, and he’s ready to do business.
He was a bit rusty and a bit sleepy on his first run at Chepstow, but then he came to life at Cheltenham last time, and he’s been in great form at home ever since then. Chris, who rides him every day, says he’s never felt him like it.
It’s a very good race but he’ll be bang there.
He’s the odds-on favourite and he deserves to be. He won the Shloer at Cheltenham and was mighty impressive, and he has all the form in the book to back it up.
I schooled him myself on Friday morning, and I hadn’t ridden him for quite some time, and he felt amazing. I had a job to hold him going up the gallops.
I jumped four fences on him and he stood off outside the wings and jumped beautifully. I came back and just said to Dad “Wow”! He is in incredible form.
On this ground, around Sandown, it’s just made for him. He’s going to take all the beating.
I won the Tingle Creek on Flagship Uberalles beating Direct Route by a head. I jumped the last two fences upsides him and just got up on the line.
When I first started it was one of the races that I really wanted to win. There’s no bigger buzz then riding a top class two miler, when they get into a good rhythm, around Sandown.
Jumping those seven races down the back is such a thrill, and if you get the Railway Fences right, then you’ve got time to fill up, and get ready for the final climb.
I loved riding around Sandown, and got a huge thrill out of winning the Tingle Creek.
We think he probably wants better ground but we want to get some practice in to him over these fences to see if he’s a Grand National horse or not.
It took us a long time to get him right last year and it’s the same this year.
He’s just starting to come to himself in his work at home. It’s difficult wherever we go with him because he’s now a 156 rated horse.
It’s not easy to win handicaps off that rating. If he takes to the Grand National fences, which he’s perfectly capable of, then it’s a wide open race and he could run well.
But ultimately we are there to find out what he makes of it with an eye to running in the Grand National next spring.
You never know if horses are going to take to the National fences or not. We ran Viconte Du Noyer in the Topham last year and he hated it, and we ran Ultragold and it transformed him.
He improved a stone over them. He’s in good form and has run a couple of solid races this season. He probably didn’t get home last time over three miles.
He was phenomenal last April over these fences and this race has always been the plan. He never touched a twig in the Topham so we’re hoping for more of the same in this race.
Sparky’s Spirit has come from Point to Points and it’s his first run for us so we’ll find out where we are with him.
The penny dropped with Golden Sunrise last time and he ran a lovely race. That transformed him at home and he seems to know what it’s all about now. He looks superb and should take all the beating.
Zanstra is back over hurdles after falling at Wetherby. He’s handicapped to his best over hurdles but it hasn’t quite happened for him yet over fences.
We wanted to get a run into him and a confidence booster in to him and then we’ll go back over fences.
He’s been off the track for a long time. He had a tendon injury.
He’ll certainly need the run and it’s a lovely place to start on that soft ground.