The 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero was a far-from-disgraced fourth under Richard Johnson in this month’s blue riband race – coincidentally the fourth time he has finished in the first four in Cheltenham’s signature race.
The 11-year-old is now set for his first tilt at the Betway Bowl on Thursday week, the day one highlight of the National meeting.
Joe Tizzard, who will shortly take over the licence from his father Colin, said: “Native River came out of the Gold Cup fine. He knew he’d had a race, but he’s fine now and in full work.
“The plan is to take him to Aintree for the Bowl, as long as the ground is all right, which I’m sure it will be. There’s not a lot of other options for him – he’s not going to go to Punchestown. It will be Aintree and that will be it for the season.”
Despite his advancing years, Tizzard expects Native River to return next term, adding: “He’s still the highest rated horse in England and finished the best of the English in the Gold Cup – and he was very impressive the time before that at Sandown. There’s no reason not to bring him back next season.”
Native River is set to be joined at Aintree by a handful of stable companions who did perform well in defeat at Cheltenham.
Eldorado Allen finished a creditable second behind Shishkin in the Arkle Trophy, while Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway placed second and third respectively behind the mighty Monkfish in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
Oscar Elite, meanwhile, filled the runner-up spot in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in the Cotswolds.
Tizzard added: “Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway are both Aintree-bound, as is Eldorado Allen, who will probably step up to two and a half miles (for the Manifesto Novices’ Chase).
“I think we’re going to have to run Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway against each other again in the three-mile novice (Mildmay Novices’ Chase). It seems a shame, but they both deserve to be there and that race suits them both.
“Oscar Elite will go to Aintree as well for the three-mile novice hurdle on the Friday (Sefton Novices’ Hurdle). It would be nice to have a winner or two if we can.”
Meanwhile, leaders of British racing have welcomed the Government announcement that £21m of loan funding will be made available through the sports winter survival package.
The money will be lent to the Levy Board due to its role in providing central funding of industry costs of race-day regulation, equine welfare and industry training, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced.
The funding is to ensure essential race day integrity costs and related health and safety expenditure are safeguarded, enabling the Levy Board to continue their programme of financial support and funding into the industry.
British Horseracing Authority chief executive Julie Harrington said: “We are extremely grateful to officials at Sport England, DCMS and the Treasury for their support in agreeing this funding to racing. We are grateful also to the Levy Board for agreeing to our proposal and borrowing this money to support the central funding of racing.
“This money will help ensure racing continues behind closed doors despite the absence of spectator revenues. This will benefit our racecourses, our participants and their communities, and the vital role racing plays as an employer and contributor to the rural economy.”
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