Thistle­crack faces his big mo­ment of truth

The Racing Paper - - News - By Sam Jack­son

NA­TIVE River and Might Bite en­gage in a fas­ci­nat­ing re­match in the Bet­fair Chase at Hay­dock to­day.

The Colin Tiz­zard­trained Na­tive River saw off Nicky Hen­der­son’s Might Bite in a pul­sat­ing Chel­tenham Gold Cup in March in the test­ing con­di­tions at Prest­bury Park.

The dry weather en­sur­ing a sound sur­face on Mersey­side this week­end, makes the classy Might Bite a hot favourite to turn the ta­bles.

How­ever, Joe Tiz­zard – as­sis­tant to his fa­ther – is hop­ing Na­tive River can con­firm his su­pe­ri­or­ity.

He said: “It has al­ways been the plan to go straight to Hay­dock. He has been back in since the mid­dle of July and hasn’t missed a day, touch wood.

“We could have run him again af­ter the Gold Cup as he came out of it well, but he jarred him­self the sea­son be­fore and we didn’t want to take any risks.

“We turned him out, he has had a proper prepa­ra­tion for this sea­son and we can’t wait to run him.”

Tiz­zard be­lieves it would be folly to pi­geon­hole Na­tive River as just a mud lark. He added: “He is a very good mover. He has been given this brand that he is a slog­ger, but he has got a bit of class as well.

“He is as tough as they come. We prob­a­bly put him into that bracket (as a slog­ger) in his novice days and we thought Dicky (Richard John­son) would suit him as he would keep send­ing him on.

“But even when he won on him first time out, he said he is bet­ter than that. I think he showed that when he won at New­bury last sea­son.”

The Tiz­zards have a strong sec­ond string to their bow in the form of Thistle­crack.

The 10-year-old looked well placed to dom­i­nate the di­vi­sion af­ter win­ning the King George VI Chase at Kemp­ton two years ago, but well-pub­li­cised in­jury prob­lems have re­stricted him to just three sub­se­quent starts.

He has not been seen in com­pet­i­tive ac­tion since fin­ish­ing fourth be­hind Might Bite when de­fend­ing his King George crown last Christ­mas, but con­nec­tions hope he can prove he is no back num­ber on Satur­day.

Tiz­zard said: “We were al­ways fight­ing a bat­tle with him last sea­son phys­i­cally. We thought he ran a good race in the King George, but he was sore com­ing out of it and he had a stress frac­ture in his hind leg.

“Are we go­ing to get him back to his old self ? At home we think we’ve got him vir­tu­ally there – it’s whether or not he can do it on the course.”

Might Bite rounded off the last cam­paign with a dom­i­nant display at Ain­tree and Hen­der­son re­ports him fir­ing on all cylin­ders.

He said: “He’s never been bet­ter – he’s in ter­rific form – and I don’t see why Hay­dock won’t suit him.

“You could say three and a quar­ter miles around Chel­tenham isn’t as ideal as an easy three miles, which I think is his per­fect scene.

The Nigel Twis­ton­Davies-trained Bris­tol De Mai was a 57-length win­ner of last year’s Bet­fair Chase – al­beit in de­mand­ing ground.

Jockey Daryl Ja­cob said: “I’m look­ing for­ward to it. He was a very good win­ner of the last race, when ob­vi­ously the ground was a lot dif­fer­ent to what it will be on Satur­day.

“He did run well on good ground be­hind Might Bite at Ain­tree in the spring.”

The line-up is com­pleted by Clan Des Obeaux, who bids to pro­vide Paul Ni­cholls with a sev­enth Bet­fair Chase suc­cess.

The Ditcheat mae­stro sad­dled Kauto Star to win the race four times and also struck twice with Sil­vini­aco Conti.

He said: “Clan Des is an im­prov­ing young horse, though he does have it all to do in this race.

“He is at the same stage of his ca­reer as Kauto Star was when he won his first Bet­fair Chase.

“He is an im­prov­ing sixyear-old with time on his side. We are look­ing for­ward to run­ning him.”

Can he come back? Thistle­crack

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.