Native River bags Welsh Grand National for Colin Tizzard

Richard Johnson took over the lead with a full circuit still to race on the 11-4 favourite

Native River ridden by jockey Richard Johnson during The Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap at Chepstow Racecourse. Photograph: PA

Native River ridden by jockey Richard Johnson during The Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap at Chepstow Racecourse. Photograph: PA

 

Hennessy Gold Cup hero Native River produced a fantastic weight-carrying performance to land the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.

Following his tremendous victory at Newbury last month, the Colin Tizzard-trained six-year-old was the 11-4 favourite for the marathon contest, despite being burdened with 11st 12lb.

Richard Johnson rode a positive race from the off, initially settling Native River in behind the pacesetting Emperor’s Choice before taking over the lead with a full circuit still to race.

The market leader jumped well in the main to keep up the momentum and produced a huge leap four fences from the finish to propel him clear of the field.

Irish raider Raz De Maree came home strongly, but Native River had enough in the tank to hold him at bay by a length and three-quarters, completing a fantastic 24 hours for the Tizzard team following Thistlecrack’s scintillating success in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Houblon Des Obeaux and Beg To Differ finished third and fourth respectively.

Johnson said: “It’s unbelievable. I wasn’t happy for the first mile and I think he definitely wants better ground, but he’s such a trier. After four or five fences he started to get into his rhythm.

“I was worried beforehand as I didn’t want to make all, but I had to get him going. It was like he was being over-cautious so I had to get him going like in the Hennessy. Once I did that he had a lovely time.

“The Gold Cup is always about top-class chasers that stay really well. He’s got that in abundance — to win a Welsh National off top weight is a hell of a performance.

“Hopefully he’s still going the right way and I’m sure slightly better ground will help him as well.”

Tizzard said: “He’s a beautiful young horse. He’s only six, after all, and it took me a long time to get them (owners) to run him. I had to think of the reasons why we should run.

“It hadn’t rained and there were no horses carrying 10 stone in it. That’s when the top weights are vulnerable, but there was only just over a stone in the handicap and there was nowhere else to go.

“He won’t do any more than he’s got to. As soon as he got out in the country, he got better and better in the race.

“He’s a lovely stayer. Any other season, without the likes of Thistlecrack and Cue Card, he’d be anyone’s champion.

“He’s a stayer so there’s nowhere else he can go apart from the Gold Cup. We’ve got options with Cue Card. He could drop back for the Ryanair.

“There’s all to play for. We were actually thinking before we came here today that Native River could go the World Hurdle route.

“You’ve got to keep an open mind, but I think we’ll stay chasing now.”

Raz De Maree’s rider Ger Fox said of Gavin Cromwell’s charge: “I thought I was going to get him.

“I winged the last and I knew Dicky Johnson’s horse was carrying a lot of weight and I thought he might tie up, but still delighted to finish second. The winner was a special horse .

“It was a great performance by my horse and by the team at home to keep a horse of his age to enjoy these type of tough chasers.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.