By Graham Clark
A new name may soon be about to appear on the top of the license at Venn Farm Racing, but Joe Tizzard is confident he has the ammunition at his disposal to make an immediate impact in his new role.
The Grade One-winning rider will take over the helm of the family’s yard on the Dorset-Somerset border later this season from his father Colin having served a number of years as his able assistant since retiring from the saddle in 2014.
Last season proved to be a difficult one for the Tizzard team with both the total number of winners and prizemoney down significantly from what they have been accustomed to achieving in recent campaigns.
However, with hints of a return to form for the yard from the small team of horses running throughout the summer, there is plenty of confidence that a productive winter yielding big-race success can be enjoyed once again.
Tizzard said: “Numerically last season we dropped back but we still had some good days and we have got some good horses to go forward now. They look good in their coats and looked to have turned a corner.
“I’ve been involved the whole way through and it doesn’t matter if it is Joe Tizzard or Colin Tizzard - it is Venn Farm Racing and we have just got to get it back where we expect it to be.
“Some might well be well-handicapped as they had poor seasons, while the novice chasers are exciting to take the next step.
“There are good horses amongst them and as long as they are fit and healthy I’m sure they will give us some good days.”
Flashback: Enjoy a full replay of Native River's 2018 Gold Cup triumph
One of the few highlights in an otherwise difficult campaign was the Grade Two success secured by 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Native River in the re-arranged Cotswold Chase at Sandown Park in February.
An outing Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday 20th November has been earmarked as a first port of call for the 11 year old, who is in now in his eighth season of racing.
He said: “As he has got older, he has just got ground dependent. When he got his conditions in the Cotswold Chase at Sandown he proved that he still every bit as good.
“He is ready earlier this year than he has been the last couple of years. If it came up soft he could go to Haydock for the Betfair Chase.
“If it was not soft at Haydock you have got the Many Clouds at Aintree and the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham. There are options for him but we will wait until he gets proper soft ground.
“He will be entered in the Gold Cup and if it came up soft it wouldn’t be a problem as we would love to run him in it.
“He doesn’t owe us anything. We still think he is more than capable of winning one of those big races through the depth of winter.”
There was no Cheltenham Festival success in March for the Tizzards, however a number of their runners performed well in defeat including Grade One Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy runner-up Eldorado Allen, who will return in next month’s Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter (Tuesday November 2).
Tizzard said: “He will start in the Haldon Gold Cup. He ran a blinder to be second in the Arkle. He was given a good ride to pick up the pieces but he was still good enough to be there.
“He is rated 151 and the Haldon Gold Cup is a good starting point for him. He is a good horse on his day and two and a quarter around Exeter will really suit him.
“I think he will end up getting a bit further and will step him up when we have to. He could well be a Ryanair type. If ran well in a Haldon Gold Cup that puts him into that sort of bracket. There are stacks of options for him.”
Fiddlerontheroof was another to fill the runner’s up spot at The Festival™ when chasing Monkfish home in the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
Plans are in place to send the Grade One-winning hurdler to Carlisle for the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase on Sunday 31st October
He said: “He was consistent but he probably got beat by some very good horses and he didn’t do a lot wrong. He proved in the RSA he was getting that three mile trip.
“We will start him in the Colin Parker up at Carlisle with the Ladbrokes Trophy as a target as he ticks all the boxes as a second season chaser on the right mark. He will win a decent pot this year, there is no doubt about that at all in my mind.
“If he is going to become a Gold Cup horse off 148 he ought to be competitive in a big handicap. He has done really well through the summer and has been working well.”
The Big Breakaway failed to add to his debut success over fences at Cheltenham in November, but the six year old, who makes his return in the Aubrey Loze Memorial Intermediate Chase at Newton Abbot today, remains held in high regard.
Tizzard said: “He was a weak horse last season but he ran a blinder in the Kauto Star at Kempton.
“That day we had to drop him in a little bit after what happened at Exeter and he just showed a bit of inexperience over the last four or five fences which cost him a Grade One.
“He has done really well over the summer and has improved no end. I think he is a very good horse.
“He will have entries in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and Ladbrokes Trophy. We will see how we get on today and go on from there.”
Little went right for 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup third Lostinstralation last season, however having undergone another wind operation over the summer hopes are high the 2019 Betfair Chase winner can return to his former glories.
He said: “It just didn’t happen for him last season. We thought he was coming back in the Denman as he travelled well then he still stopped that day. We did every test we possibly could but never got to the bottom of it.
“He looks a lot better this year and we will just let him tell us when he is right to run. He had a hobday on his wind through the summer.
“We would rather have a spring campaign than bottom him before Christmas but the Many Clouds could be a target if he is ready to go.
“He is in full work and he looks real good. We will take him for a racecourse gallop then suss it out from there. I’m sure we can get him back.”
Oscar Elite is expected to improve for the switch to chasing this season having ended the last campaign finishing second in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival™ and third in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, both Grade One events.
He said: “He ran well at both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals.
“He ran in three point-to-points and jumps very well. We were half tempted to look at the Stayers’ Hurdle route but we have schooled him and he jumps so well that we will go novice chasing.
“He might start at Cheltenham on the 23rd of this month but if it is still too quick he could run in a novice handicap as he is off a decent enough mark but he will be novice chasing somewhere soon.
“He is a very good jumper and he might be better with a fence. He has summered very well.
“He is big and robust now which he wasn’t last year as he was quite a narrow horse. I’m looking forward to him in those staying novice chases.”
Injury meant Elegant Escape spent last season on the sidelines but the Grade Two winning chaser is ready to return to the track this season where an outing in the Randox Grand National at Aintree is the primary aim.
He said: “We missed him last season as he had a leg injury so it is nice to have him back in training as he has taken us to some big days.
“His main target is the Grand National and we are going to run him in the Becher Chase in December. We might give him a spin over hurdles in the middle of November before the Becher Chase, where we will see if he takes to the fences.
“He is a Welsh Grand National winner and has been sixth in a Gold Cup and has been placed in the Ladbrokes Trophy twice so he is a fair horse.”
Reserve Tank will return to the scene of his Grade One victory in the 2019 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle later this month (Sunday October 24) when attempting to secure victory for the first time on over 18 months in the Grade Two Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase.
He said: “He got a bit jarred up at Cheltenham the season before last and he has only just started running well again.
“He looks magnificent but he is a real good ground horse though. His handicap mark has dropped to a reasonable one so he will probably start in the Old Roan at Aintree and we will then go from there.”
Slate House will revert to hurdles in a bid to try and enable him to re-capture the sort of form that saw him claim Grade One glory in the 2019 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park.
He said: “His knee played up last year which he had an operation on after a novice hurdle at Aintree a little while back but it seems really good this at the moment.
“He will probably go up to Wetherby for the West Yorkshire Hurdle and he might just stay over hurdles but he could have a Ladbrokes Trophy entry.
“His knee is getting a bit arthritic and we have to make sure we look after it.”
On hurdles form Oscar Elite might be the stand out horse from the yard to go novice chasing this term, but both Killer Kane and mare Rose Of Arcadia are expected to both benefit from tackling a fence this season.
He said: “Killer Kane will go novice chasing. He got better as the season went on and he finished on a nice note.
“I won’t run him until we get some proper decent ground and he will start in a novice handicap chase. Hopefully he will work his way through the ranks.
“We fancied Rose Of Arcadia in the EBF Mares Final at Newbury but she came back in lame. She is a lovely mare and we have schooled her over a fence this year.
“She looks so much bigger and stronger. I suspect we will go novice chasing. She is better than what she has shown so far. She is not far off ready to run.”
Better is also expected of second season chasers Elixir De Nutz, who is seeking a first success since the 2019 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown, and Ofalltheginjoints.
He said: “Elixir De Nutz is back in training but He has been fragile all of his life. He will be ready to run in a novice chase in November as soon as that ground is soft.
“We have got to try get him back where he was but he needs to race this season, as simple as that. We will start him as low key as we can. On his day he has got a big engine.”
“Ofalltheginjoints won well at Exeter and he ran well at Aintree when he got blocked off a couple of times. I think we will probably take him to the Badger Beer Chase first at Wincanton.
“I think he is off a mark where he should be competitive in a race like that. Hopefully there is a bit more natural improvement to come.”
While the yard boasts plenty of strength and depth amongst its chasing team in J P R One and Exeter bumper winner Autonomous Cloud, Tizzard believes he has two promising types that could hit the ground running over hurdles.
He said: “J P R One is a beautiful young horse that we have just got from Ireland. He works and schools really well. He is only four but we are excited about the future.
“We might run him in a bumper to give him experience but we will run him in a novice hurdle sooner rather than later.
“Autonomous Cloud won a bad bumper down at Exeter then was put in his place at Newbury.
“He will now go novice hurdling over two and a half miles on a nice galloping track. He was purchased with a reputation and he has shown lots at home.”
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