Brian Healy picks out five top stars from the Colin Tizzard Cheltenham Festival team who might be worth keeping onside for their respective Festival assignments.
While much of the focus for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival will likely centre around those runners from the ‘big three’ of Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Nicky Henderson given their array of talent at their disposal, there are a number of other trainers heading into the Festival with live chances of a winner.
One of those trainers is Dorset handler Colin Tizzard who is no stranger to Cheltenham Festival success having won several big races over the four days including the 2018 Gold Cup with Native River.
Tizzard has plenty of classy individuals under his care, several of whom a case can be made a strong case for as possible winners despite facing off with stars from the Mullins/Henderson/Elliott triumverate.
Tizzard was winless in 2019, but he won both the Gold Cup and Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle the previous year and we take a look at five live chances to come from the Tizzard camp who ought to put up a bold show.
2020 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL – TOP TRAINER BETTING SPECIAL
COLIN TIZZARD CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL TEAM – BEST CHANCES OF A FESTIVAL WINNER
THE BIG BREAKAWAY (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle)
Unbeaten in two starts over hurdles since transferring from the point-to-point sphere, the Getaway gelding has looked a top-class prospect in readily brushing aside rivals to land wins at Chepstow and Newbury.
The bare form perhaps doesn’t stand out compared to the likes of Envoi Allen or Sporting John and he possibly just lacks a little in experience. However he can only improve on what he has shown thus far and he remains a very smart prospect where he goes to Cheltenham a fresh horse having not run since December.
It will be tougher stepping up markedly on his runs taking on some well-regarded rivals in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, but he’s not without claims of posting a big effort and he looks a very nice chaser in the making for next season.
COPPERHEAD (RSA Chase)
Has progressed with every start over fences since finishing fifth on his chase debut following a break. The Sulamani gelding has won all three starts since which includes a wide-margin success in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot when last seen in February.
A couple of rivals didn’t give their running that day on account of the testing ground; but it was nevertheless a devastating performance by the six-year old who jumped and travelled well throughout enroute to an impressive victory.
Plans remain fluid for him at present with entries in both the RSA Chase and the National Hunt Chase. He was well-supported for the latter event in the wake of his success at Ascot, but connections are leaning towards taking in the Wednesday Grade One instead and he may well line up against the likes of Champ and Minella Indo where he wouldn’t be without a chance.
He could prove one of the leading lights of the Colin Tizzard Cheltenham Festival team given he remains open to plenty of improvement.
FIDDLERONTHEROOF (Supreme Novices; Hurdle)
Fair in bumpers in Ireland, the Stowaway gelding has improved with every start over hurdles. His record includes a pair of wins at Sandown with the latest coming in the Tolworth Hurdle back in January.
The six-year old was an easy winner that day, scoring by six lengths. While the form might not be the strongest he impressed with the way he jumped and travelled.
He has plenty of scope for better and his overall form where he has chased home the likes of Edwardstone and Thyme Hill certainly puts him in the mix given he can improve.
He is the sole representative of the Colin Tizzard Cheltenham Festival team to head to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with Master Debonair likely to head to Aintree and The Big Breakaway targeting the Ballymore Hurdle.
Like many from the yard he could develop into a nice chaser for next season and he’s one to watch.
LOSTINTRANSLATION (Gold Cup)
Found only Defi Du Seuil too strong in last season’s JLT Novices’ Chase; but the Flemensfirth gelding has looked a stayer and he won at Aintree over three miles on his next start where he beat RSA Chase winner Topofthegame.
He won the Betfair Chase at Haydock, beating Bristol De Mai and he was sent off favourite to land the King George VI Chase at Kempton. He ran poorly there however and pulled up following some unimpressive jumping.
A wind operation following that flop might spark a revival when he turns out in the Friday showpiece and his chances will increase as the ground dries out. He will need to prove stamina for the extra distance and stiff uphill finish but he has travelled well in most of his races and he might get a decent pace that will allow him to switch off.
Despite his Kempton flop he’s not one to write off returning from a break and he could post a big run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
SLATE HOUSE (Marsh Novices’ Chase)
Plans are still fluid for the Presenting gelding who remains in both the RSA Chase and the Marsh Novices’ Chase. But a drop to the shorter of the two contests could see a bold show from the second-season novice who may have more to come.
Eighth in last season’s Arkle Novices’ Chase, he won three of his first four starts over fences which include a defeat of Black Op in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day. It’s not impossible to think he might have won the Betvictor Gold Cup previously had he not fallen when still travelling well.
He can’t be judged too harshly in the Cotswold Chase when last seen taking on Gold Cup horses. He was a spent force on the second circuit and he was eventually pulled up behind Santini.
It could be then that despite winning over an easy three miles at Kempton it might be that he’ll better appreciate a lesser test on a stiffer track. If he goes to the Marsh Novices’ Chase over the RSA Chase then it wouldn’t come as a surpise to see him bounce back.