Colin Tizzard’s stable star Native River to miss Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National due to tendon injury
- The 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner was due to be ridden by Richard Johnson
- Tizzard had high hopes for Native River after two wins in two runs this season
- But the horse has been ruled out for the season by a suspensory tendon injury
- The trainer still has Betfair Chase winner Lostintranslation for the Gold Cup
The British defence of next month’s Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup has been weakened after 2018 winner Native River was ruled out of the race.
Trainer Colin Tizzard had talked positively about Native River’s chances after two wins in two runs this season, most notably in the Denman Chase at Newbury this month.
That had fuelled hopes that the horse, who was also entered in the Grand National and was due to be ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, had returned to his best and was in shape to improve on his fourth place in last season’s Gold Cup.
Native River will miss the Gold Cup and the Grand National after suffering a tendon injury
But Tizzard’s son and assistant Joe said: ‘He’s picked up a suspensory tendon injury which means his season is over.’
Coral reacted by trimming Nicky Henderson-trained Santini to 100-30 favourite for the Gold Cup.
The Tizzards still have Betfair Chase winner Lostintranslation (7-1) for the Gold Cup.
Meanwhile, trainer Willie Mullins expects stable jockey Paul Townend to stick with his 2019 Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo (7-2) rather than considering riding stablemate and recent Irish Gold Cup second Kemboy (7-1).
Mullins said: ‘I imagine he will ride Al Boum Photo. He has won over the track and won the race. If I was Paul I would find it very hard to get off him.’
Mullins revealed veteran Un De Sceaux is set to add further spice to the Queen Mother Champion Chase by taking on stablemate Chacun Pour Soi, Defi Du Seuil and dual winner Altior.
For the past three seasons Un De Sceaux, who will be ridden by Mullins’ amateur rider son Patrick, has run in the longer Ryanair Chase, winning the race in 2017.
Mullins said: ‘His connections are very keen to go for the Champion Chase. We probably did not get the tactics right with him last year and he still retains a huge amount of ability for his age. I’d like to see lots of rain for him. It will probably be his last hurrah at Cheltenham.’
Willie Mullins expects jockey Paul Townend to stick with 2019 Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo
Mullins’ Asterion Forlonge, impressive winner of the two mile Grade One novice hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival, will run in the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle even though his owner Joe Donnelly also will have Nicky Henderson-trained favourite Shishkin in the race.
Benie Des Dieux has multiple options but Mullins said his inclination would have be to have another shot at the Mares’ Hurdle. She fell at the final hurdle in last year’s race with victory looking assured.
Mullins added: ‘She was an unlucky loser last year. I’d like to go back and get some unfinished business done.’
Cilaos Emery, winner of the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park last weekend, will be supplemented to the line up for the Champion Hurdle.
Veteran Faugheen prompted emotional scenes when winning at the Dublin Festival but Mullins said no decision had been made yet whether he goes to the Festival.
Melon, runner-up in two Champion Hurdle and a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, will step up in trip to take in the Marsh Novices’ Chase.