Native delight for Tizzards
Colin Tizzard's remarkable season took another turn as Native River (7/2 fav) won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
Native River is clear in the Hennessy Gold Cup
The six-year-old, a winner on this card last year, had improved in leaps and bounds since being fitted with cheekpieces last season and continued from where he left off in the prestigious handicap.
Prominent throughout, he needed to be game in the straight as 50/1 chance Double Ross refused to go down without a fight but Native River had the gallant 10-year-old's measure by the last.
There was one more battle to be fought, though, as Carole's Destrier came with a withering late run down his outside and looked like he might edge past but the post came in time.
The winning margin was half a length with the pair five lengths clear of Double Ross in third. Hadrian's Approach finished fourth.
Victory provided Tizzard with another memorable success in a season which has already seen big-race victories for the likes of Cue Card and Fox Norton and it was also a first Hennessy Gold Cup for Champion Jockey Richard Johnson.
Johnson said: "It's always nice to win one you haven't before.
"He's a fantastic horse and Colin and his team are in amazing form. I'd knew he'd pick up again, although turning in I was a bit worried I wasn't going that well. But he's one of those – the more you ask, the more he gives.
"You ride horses day in, day out, and the big Saturday ones are the ones that make it worthwhile."
Tizzard, who earlier saw Thistlecrack maintain his unbeaten record over fences, said of Native River: "Everything was right for him – it was a big race.
"Richard said that when he went clear and the other one (Carole's Destrier) got to him, he went again, which is the sign of a good horse.
"It's a brilliant day again."
On his recent headline-making string of big results, the Dorset handler added: "We don't try to make it happen, we let it happen and that's what you've got to do.
"I have to put the handbrake on myself. We've got good facilities now, and that's what you've got to have."
Tizzard was keen to highlight Native River's jumping prowess as a main factor behind his Hennessy triumph.
"He travelled better than he ever has and jumped beautifully."
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