Johnson turns to Native River to end Hennessy hoodoo

Native River: considered a "goodish" thing by trainer Colin Tizzard

PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos) Johnson has big chance to end Hennessy hoodoo By Lee Mottershead 6:20PM 25 NOV 2016

SIR ANTHONY McCOY achieved almost everything there was to achieve in his record-busting career, but one achievement that eluded him was victory in the Hennessy Gold Cup.

Success in the Newbury showpiece has also eluded his long-time rival Richard Johnson. Until now, perhaps.

The reigning champion jockey first rode in the race in 1998. He finished second and did so again in 2011 but, aboard general 6-1 favourite Native River, he has a clear chance of writing his own name into the great prize's roll of honour in its 60th year.

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Native River's trainer Colin Tizzard took out last weekend's feature race with Cue Card in the Betfair Chase, and has high hopes of securing another big jumps prize.

He said: "Without being too bullish, Native River looks like he could be a goodish thing. He has been favourite for ages and his final two runs last season were excellent.

"He needs to improve 10lb to be a Gold Cup horse but we'll find out if he's improved at Newbury. He had a hard enough race at Wetherby but he's a dour stayer and I don't think there's a bottom to him."

Going change

There may be slightly less emphasis placed on stamina for the big race as the ground dried out a touch following Friday's fixture.

The chase course is now good to soft (from good to soft, soft in places), while the hurdle course is good to soft, soft in places (from soft, good to soft in places).

A dry night is forecast while Saturday is also expected to be largely dry with a risk of drizzle.

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