It is four years since the bold-jumping chestnut landed the Monmouthshire marathon before going on to scale even greater heights with victory in the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The 10-year-old won each of his two starts last season before injury prevented a return to Cheltenham in March, but he is reported to be in rude health ahead of a likely bid for back-to-back victories in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on December 5.
Speaking in his latest Coral blog, assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “Native River is in beautiful form at home. We have the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, the race he won last year, as the first target for him.
“He schooled on Wednesday morning and he will definitely be ready for that, and then it’s a case of what options we will look at for him.
“We spoke to Garth and Anne Broome (owners) and we agreed that we would give him an entry for the Welsh Grand National, as we want that option for him. He’s not getting any younger, and with the Gold Cup as competitive as it is, I’m not sure he’s going to win another one, so we wanted to give ourselves a Christmas big race option for him when there isn’t a lot else.
“He’s rated 168, which is obviously a lot of weight, but the conditions of the Welsh Grand National really play to Native River’s strengths – as we have seen before.
“We don’t have to decide now – we can take a look at the weights, and the ground and the opposition nearer the time and make a decision then.”
Tizzard’s other possible Welsh Grand National contenders are Copperhead, Christmas In April and Lamanver Pippin.
Copperhead was pulled up on his seasonal reappearance over hurdles at Wetherby, while Christmas In April and Lamanver Pippin recently finished placed at Fontwell and Cheltenham respectively.
“Copperhead was disappointing at Wetherby, but he seems in really good form now and he’s heading for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury,” Tizzard continued.
“His form as a novice (chaser) last year seems to tick a lot of boxes for a Welsh National horse. He’s a big, long-striding, horse who gallops all day. His first target is the Ladbrokes Trophy, but this would be the next logical option.
“Christmas In April is a real stayer who ran well in the Southern National at Fontwell on Sunday. He is a horse that will get in off a low weight, which is always an advantage in the Welsh National.
“Lamanver Pippin ran a blinder on his comeback at Cheltenham last weekend. He won at Chepstow last year and the Welsh National looks the right race for him.”
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