Joe Tizzard confirms the team’s Cheltenham Festival running plans
COLIN TIZZARD CHELTENHAM TEAM UPDATE
Ainchea isn’t going to make Cheltenham now. He has had a little setback which is a shame. He’s pulled muscles behind. It’s disappointing particularly for the horse’s owners, the Potts family, as they’ve now got three nice horses missing the Festival, in Sizing John, Fox Norton and now Ainchea.
I’m chuffed to bits with the form of all our horses going into Cheltenham. They are absolutely flying and as a result it’s a really nice atmosphere going into the Festival. I can’t wait for it.
The weather forecast looks very unsettled although they have a job to tell for sure this far in advance. To be honest though there is not one horse in our team that I’m really that worried about running on soft ground.
I’d much rather go into a Festival with the threat of very soft ground than if they were watering at the moment. There’ll be a few that might want a bit better ground but it is what it is, and it’s out of our hands. They’ve been running on soft ground all winter and it will be completely fresh ground at Cheltenham. It’s also amazing how quickly it dries up there too.
Supreme Novices Hurdle:
We plan to run three and Slate House looks to be the pick of them, or he certainly is on official ratings. The owner is keen to run Shoal Bay and I think he’s come on for his run at Kempton and he’s a nice young horse. He’s run well around Cheltenham before.
Lostintranslation could be better than what we’ve seen. He has some decent bits of form and he was wrong over Christmas but he’s bouncing again now. With Ainchea out, it made sense for Robbie Power to ride Lostintranslation as he’s won on him. Harry Cobden has won on Slate House and will be on board again and Tom Scu has won on Shoal Bay so will ride him in the race.
Ultima Handicap Chase:
We might leave Viconte Du Noyer for the Brown Advisory Handicap Chase on the Thursday. He’s been given both options. Sizing Codelco will run although he’s probably one of our horses that would want better ground.
He came good in the spring last year but there aren’t masses of options for him given his rating so he’ll run in this. He’s a classy horse on his day. He’ll then either head for Aintree or the Coral Scottish Grand National. He certainly thrives for having the sun on his back.
National Hunt Chase:
Sizing Tennessee is in this race and the RSA Chase. He’ll run in one of them. We are just waiting on a jockey really for this race. If we can get one of the top boys then that would sway us. On a good day he’s a fair horse. The top amateurs have agents sorting out their rides.
The likes of Derek O’Connor and Jamie Codd are committed to ride for certain yards and owners. Hopefully a decent amateur will come along but if not we’ll run him in the RSA and Robbie Power can ride him.
Vision De Flos looks superb. He was just starting to turn the corner and then he went and won the way he did at Exeter. Ever since then his coat has come on and he looks superb. He will love a bit of soft ground, he has a high knee action.
That said he won at Punchestown last year and that was good top soft ground, but at Exeter he proved he handles soft ground a lot better than a lot of horses. I’m excited about running him. He’s a good horse.
Elegant Escape runs in this and Harry Cobden rides. He has improved and improved all season and he is in terrific form. I’m really excited about running him. I keep watching replays of last year, when he led turning in in the Ballymore Hurdle, when he was a big frame of a horse. He’s going the right way. I’m expecting a big run from him. He will love the ground.
We’re going to run Royal Vacation in this. It’s ultra-competitive but he deserves to be going there. On his day he has a lot of ability.
Padleyourowncanoe is a bonny little chap and he will love the soft ground. There might be classier horses in the field but he’s a gutsy horse that will get two and a half miles so if they go a good gallop and it turns into a bit of a slog he’ll be doing his best work at the end.
Jaytrack Parkhomes won at Fontwell and this is a bit of an afterthought but his owners, John and Jim, were keen to have a runner at the Festival. He’s improved no end for his win so we’ll give him a shot. He’s no Cue Card but he certainly won’t disgrace himself.
Both West Approach and Finian’s Oscar will run in this race. We schooled West Approach in blinkers the other morning. Two and a half miles is probably his trip. He ran well for a long way in the Kauto Star Chase at Kempton but didn’t get home over three miles. He will need to be on his A-game it’s as simple as that.
Finian’s Oscar is going to have cheekpieces on. He had some lovely pieces of form earlier in the season. Since then he’s been knocked but he made a bit of a noise in the Cleeve Hurdle, so he’s had a wind op. He’s schooled really well and hopefully the cheekpieces will help him concentrate at his fences. He has a lot of ability. I can’t wait to run him. I think he’s one of our biggest chances of the week.
I felt people were quick to knock him straightaway when he went chasing, saying he was too steady at his fences. His Cheltenham form is rock solid, his Ascot form is rock solid, and if the cheekpieces work as they have in his schooling, then he has to have a chance. He has a huge engine. He proved how good he is last year at Aintree and at Punchestown. He is a very good horse on his day.
Cue Card is in marvellous form. We couldn’t have him better. He bounced out of Ascot and if we can get him to Cheltenham in that kind of form then he will run a big race. There’s no pressure with Cue Card we’re just excited about still having him at the Festival.
Given the form he’s in I expect him to be bang there turning in. The fact that Waiting Patiently isn’t running makes it slightly easier but Un De Sceaux is a good horse especially on this ground. It’s no easy race but it’s just great to be taking him to Cheltenham again with a leading chance and he’ll run well.
Brown Advisory Handicap Chase:
Shanahans Turn won’t get in but we’ll leave him in to qualify for Kempton on Saturday. Viconte Du Noyer, Ultragold and Quite By Chance will probably all run. Two and a half miles is the ideal trip for Quite By Chance and Ultragold and you could well see both of them in the Topham at Aintree next month. Both of these are handicapped up to the hilt though so it’s never easy.
There’s no White Moon unfortunately as he’s just stiffened up a bit so he’s out for the season. Kilbricken Storm will run well. We probably got greedy with him running him in the Challow as it was only two weeks after he won at Cheltenham. He’s a nice little horse and he deserves to be there.
Native River has done all his preparation now. We just have to get him there in one piece. He has come out of Newbury in really good form. We’ve put the final finishing touches on him and we couldn’t be happier with him. We used to say he wanted better ground but he’s also proved time and time again that he can handle a bit of cut.
I’m really looking forward to seeing him run. I’m being told by lots of people that he’s going to win but I don’t want to start thinking like that because I know what a difficult race this is to win. He goes there in great form, he’s ticked all the boxes, we haven’t missed a beat with him and he’s won his prep run well. As long as we don’t have any hiccups in the next week, there will be no excuses. What will be will be.
It was always the plan to run Grand Vision in this race again. For some reason he seems to have improved as a twelve year old. He ran in the race last year but he’s in much better form this year going into it. He’ll then go to Aintree for the Foxhunter Chase. He’s a lovely horse to have around. He’s been with us for ages, as long as Cue Card has in fact.
Sizing Platinum will take his chance in this race. It’s an ultra-competitive race but Sizing Platinum has operated around there. He was a good second to Fox Norton there so on his day he has a lot of ability.