COLIN Tizzard bids to end a fantastic year on a high as Elegant Escape shoots for Grade One glory in the Betfred Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury.
The Dorset handler has long since established himself as one of National Hunt racing’s leading trainers, but in 2016 he has joined the elite.
Cue Card, Native River and Thistlecrack were all big-race winners at the spring festivals and that formidable trio have spearheaded a spectacular start to the current campaign that has seen Tizzard emerge as a genuine contender to be crowned this season’s champion trainer.
The festive period has proved particularly fruitful, with Thistlecrack a scintillating winner of the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day under Tom Scudamore before Native River confirmed himself as a genuine Gold Cup contender with a tremendous weight-carrying performance in the Welsh Grand National the following afternoon under Richard Johnson.
Elegant Escape’s career is very much in its infancy, but the 150,000 euro purchase looks another exciting addition to the team judged by victories at Chepstow and Ascot this autumn.
Tizzard said: “He’s a very nice young horse. He’s stepping up all the time and you forget he’s only a four-year-old as he’s done so much already. We’ve had this race in mind since his last one and we’re looking forward to it.”
Nicky Henderson’s novice chaser Buveur D’Air is rerouted to Warwick today for a three-runner race.
Victorious over Malcolm Jefferson’s highly-regarded Cloudy Dream at Haydock earlier this month, the JP McManus-owned horse was due to reappear at the Merseyside track yesterday.
However, with the meeting abandoned due to frost, a fortuitous back-up entry at Warwick has come into play.
“We’ve had to reroute him, which is a bit of a pain, but I’m desperate to get more experience into him before the weather properly turns,” said Henderson whose Christmas was highlighted by Altior’s victory in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton.
“He looked very good at Haydock, beating a nice horse (Cloudy Dream), but we were getting 8lb. It’s all about getting experience into him.”