We saw the return of Native River last weekend, winning the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in very good style. He won well but was given a much easier task when his main market rival Might Bite unseated rider Nico de Boinville. The horse is a fascinating one to talk about this season, not because he has a great chance of winning something big but because it will be very interesting to see which route the Colin Tizzard yard takes him down.
It was only just over 18 months ago that we were watching Native River produce a fantastic staying performance to beat off his rivals in the Gold Cup. Unfortunately, he failed to defend his crown last season when Al Boum Photo took the honours. Colin Tizzard now has a new horse at the top of his pecking order in the shape of Lostintranslation, so what does this mean for Native River?
The Gold Cup is only just enough of a test for Native River. He could go over further if they wished and that appears to be the plan with him. Three races have been mentioned as possible targets. The first is the Welsh National on December 27th, a race he won back in 2016. Next is the Cheltenham Gold Cup again, which he won in 2018. And then there's the 2020 Grand National. He has never run in this but is the right age and ticks a huge number of boxes.
We’ve seen Colin Tizzard throw multiple runners at the big staying chasers in the past when he has had them. Native River, Cue Card and Thistlecrack have all taken each other on at some point. That means there is a chance that Lostintranslation and Native River could meet at some point this season. But you get the feeling that the emergence of the youngster means that Tizzard can move Native River up in distance, to races he feels he could win.
After his win at Aintree on Saturday, Native River is now rated 168. That puts him 13lb higher than when winning the Welsh National in 2016. Anything like a good run there would put this horse up to a rating of 170. A trip to the Grand National could push many of his rivals out of the handicap due to his rating being so high. Especially if Elegant Escape and Tiger Roll join him.
Like any top-rated chaser, he would have to carry huge weight for four miles though it is capped at 11-10. However, he would meet others on favourable terms as far as the handicap goes so this is a plus. This is certainly something that will be going through the mind of trainer Colin Tizzard.
Fiddlerontheroof & Native River this morning both bright eyed and happy after their impressive wins yesterday. pic.twitter.com/o106IVCmba
— Colin Tizzard (@colintizzard) December 8, 2019
If he does indeed decide to go for both Nationals that doesn’t rule out a Gold Cup tilt completely. A run as a pacemaker for Lostintranslation around the 3m2f Gold Cup course would be a great way to prepare for the big one at Aintree. Of course, that's only if they plan to run Native River in all three of their targeted races.
Currently, Native River is 9/1 for the Welsh National and 20/1 for Grand National 2020. Likewise for the 2020 Gold Cup where he is also 20/1. All odds are ante-post.