Native River wins for dominant Tizzard in Hennessy
Native River continues Tizzard dominance By Andrew Dietz 3:24PM 26 NOV 2016
Report: Newbury, Saturday
Hennessy Gold Cup Chase (Grade 3) 3m1f214y, 4yo+
FAVOURITE Native River clung on from the fast-finishing Carole's Destrier in a gruelling finish to deliver champion jockey Richard Johnson a first Hennessy success and maintain the big-race dominance of trainer Colin Tizzard.
Seven days on from Cue Card's sensational performance in the Betfair Chase and just over two hours after Thistlecrack gained a foot-perfect third chase victory, Tizzard unearthed a third potential Cheltenham Gold Cup candidate in the form of the progressive Brocade Racing-owed chaser.
While Cue Card and Thistlecrack possess cruising speeds to die for, Native River is cut from a different cloth with his bottomless stamina capable of breaking the toughest of rivals.
Nudged along by Johnson from a long way out, Native River kept finding more and despite an errant jump three out the pair quickly regrouped to take over the lead over the second-last.
The challengers were lined up in behind at the final fence but the winner rolled up his sleeves and powered clear on the run-in and although gallant runner-up Carole's Destrier closed the gap all the way to the line the winner had done enough.
Tizzard, the envy of trainers everywhere, said: "I have got all the toys at the moment, I can't believe it. The horses have come to me, I haven't found them, and I don't know how many I will have in the Gold Cup."
The trainer, who surpassed the million mark in total prize-money for the first time last season, is on course to do the same before Christmas this time. After victory in the £200,000 showpiece, he was cut into 4-1 (from 6-1) for the trainers' championship, having been a 25-1 chance at the start of the campaign.
Regarding future targets for the winner, he said: "Native River will not be going back over hurdles now. He is in the Coral Welsh National but might be a bit better than that.
"If he is in the same sort of form in March he could join the team in the Gold Cup. If you win a Hennessy you are usually right up there with the best of them.
"We dreamt after he won the novice chase here this day last year that me would be back for the Hennessy.
"The race went perfectly for him and I was surprised how well he was travelling. I didn't like the idea of bullying him all the time and Richard has ridden him brilliantly."
More to follow . . .