Colin Tizzard taking no sides in Cheltenham Gold Cup
COLIN Tizzard insists he will be an impartial supporter of Native River and Cue Card when destiny comes calling in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Even in spite of Thistlecrack’s enforced absence, the Dorset handler has long held the aces in the big race as his two runners remain towards the head of the market.
But Tizzard has no preference for either horse on what will be the biggest day of his training career.
He said: “The handicapper says there is about 2lb between them and they know pretty much what is what.
“I would not be able to split them and I would not mind if either jumps the last four lengths clear.
“There is no way I would want one horse to win more than the other.
“All I want is for both horses to run their races and come back fit and sound.
“May the best horse win.”
Native River has been a revelation this season, with victories in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, the Welsh National at Chepstow and the Denman Chase at Newbury a clear testament of his quality.
His trainer said: “He has what it takes to win a Gold Cup, whether or not he does so this year.
“He ran well in the four-miler last year and was staying on well and was only beaten three-quarters-of-a-length.
“He is only seven and he is going the right way.
“He has got everything and is in the form of his life.”
Eleven-year-old Cue Card suffered a heartbreaking fall in the Gold Cup last season, when bang in the hunt, but has showed no signs of slowing down this winter.
“He won so strongly at Ascot last time and looks as well as he has ever been,” said Tizzard.
“Cue Card has done everything bar win a Gold Cup and we have everything to play for.
“We thought his chance might have gone, but he has an equally good chance this year as he had last year.
“The Gold Cup is a very big strain on the owner, trainer and jockey.
“None of us ever expected Cue Card to fall as he has always been a very neat and accurate jumper. At the time it was great that he just got back up. Paddy (Brennan) just took it as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Cue Card has been, and still is, a Grade One horse and I don’t think he is wilting yet.
“I am so proud of the horse.”
Djakadam has finished second in the last two renewals, but trainer Willie Mullins believes his preparation has gone much better than in previous years.
“He hasn’t had any setbacks this year,” said Mullins, who has yet to win the race.
“I think he’s more mature this season and he’s come to the age where you can win a Gold Cup.
“We just need the ball bouncing in our favour a little bit more and it could happen.
“It would be nice to win it.”
Jessica Harrington is especially wary of Djakadam when she saddles Sizing John, the Irish Gold Cup winner.
She said: “It remains to be seen whether he’ll stay the extra two furlongs up the hill, but he’s going there a relatively fresh horse.
“He was unlucky to be the same age as Douvan, but now he’s stepped up in trip he seems to be flourishing.”