Joe Tizzard
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Joe Tizzard: “The Russian Doyen has a great each way chance.”

| 12.03.2019

Cheltenham Festival insight from the Tizzard yard

The weather is mad. I saw the videos from Cheltenham on Sunday and it was snowing. There’s a lot of rain forecast on Tuesday and unsettled for the rest of the week and to be honest we don’t mind that at all.

None of our horses mind soft going and Cheltenham drains so well anyway. In truth it doesn’t bother me as it’s out of our hands. I know there are strong winds forecast and that has caused problems before but when you are riding you don’t notice it.

The horses don’t have to do a lot now. They’ve done all their work and they are just being kept freshened up.

Even the Gold Cup horses will just do a couple of canters in the morning and that’s all they’ll do. The runners will leave the yard each day between 5am and half past, and will generally get to the racecourse by 8am.

The Festival is different from anywhere else as it’s pretty frenetic up there. They all have to go through the equine flu checks, and every horse at the festival has to be trotted up in front of the Vets this year, so that all has to be done.

Then we like them to have some down-time, where they can settle down in their stables. Some of them look out the door and watch what’s going on and others just sit back and chill out in the stable. I can’t wait for it to start.

I love this week, I absolutely love it. Don’t get me wrong, there will be disappointments, you can’t get away from that, but on the flip-side the highs are massive, and we have some really decent chances.


1.30 The Supreme Novices Hurdle – Elixir De Nutz and Beaufort West

Elixir De Nutz was our main chance in the race but unfortunately he is lame this evening and won’t be running.

Beaufort West is a horse we like, and we’ve decided to let him run at the big Festivals, so that he can learn his job, and if he wins a race then great, but if he doesn’t he’ll be a novice for next season and with a year over hurdles under his belt.

2.10 Arkle Trophy – Slate House

Slate House has some serious form to his name from last Autumn and it then just petered out a  bit and he got injured. He is just coming back right. He ran a lovely race at Newbury and we knew that he’d come on for it.

We needed to get a run into him if we were going to take him to Cheltenham. I just have a sneaky feeling that he’s going to run quite a big race. The drop back to two miles will suit him.

We are mindful that he will still be a novice for next season if he doesn’t win a race, so we’ve decided to run him at Cheltenham, and then at either Aintree or Punchestown, and if he wins one of those races then we won’t mind if he loses his novice status.

2.50 The Ultima Handicap Chase – Royal Vacation & Sizing Codelco

Royal Vacation is heading for the Grand National after this and the form of his Taunton win was really good. His second at Cheltenham was a good run too earlier this season.

He is a good solid yardstick and he will pick up one of these races in a minute, and I don’t mind if it’s next time out in the Grand National. He’s a good boy and he’s consistent, and he won’t mind a bit of soft ground either.

Sizing Codelco comes right in the spring, and usually takes a run to come right and he would prefer good ground.

With his mark it was a toss-up between here and the Midlands National, and we just felt that off his mark we could come here and then go for something like the Coral Scottish Grand National.

4.50 – The Close Brothers Novices Handicap Chase – The Russian Doyen

This is a really competitive race but he deserves to be there.

There are excuses for his run at Cheltenham and he’s won either side of that. He was impressive at Exeter and even more so at Newbury last time. I think he’s got a good each way chance.




Joe Tizzard

Former Jump jockey Joe Tizzard enjoyed a stellar career in the saddle, with his record 91 wins to claim the 1998-99 champion conditional title gaining him prominence. Tizzard’s first Cheltenham Festival successes came during that period, including an Arkle win onboard the Paul Nicholls trained Flagship Uberalles. However, it was his Grade 1 victories in partnership with Cue Card, trained by dad Colin, which really catapulted Joe into the big time. Now assistant trainer to his father the Tizzards’ Dorset yard is home to some of the most exciting horses in training, including Cue Card, Thistlecrack and Native River. You can read Joe’s thoughts and get exclusive insight at throughout the 2019-20 season.