Native River set for Aintree return before possible Grand National tilt
A tilt at the Randox Health Grand National and a clash with two-time winner Tiger Roll is under discussion for Native River, who will return to action at the home of the world's most famous steeplechase next month.
Joe Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father, Colin, indicated Native River's owners, Garth and Anne Broom, were slowly warming to the idea of a Grand National bid for their 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
The nine-year-old, who defeated Might Bite in a pulsating finale to land the Cheltenham showpiece by four and a half lengths in 2018, finished fourth in last season's contest, which falls 22 days before the Grand National next year.
Joe Tizzard said: "We’ve talked about going for the National a lot at home but we just want to get him back first. Garth and Anne were against it but they’ve come round to things, though it’s something we haven’t really discussed too much with them yet."
Native River is a general 25-1 for the Grand National on April 4, for which Tiger Roll, winner of the last two editions, is a best-priced 6-1.
Before then, another date at the Merseyside track beckons for Native River, who won his only previous start at Aintree in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices' Chase in April 2016.
"The plan is to go for the Many Clouds on December 7," said Tizzard. "He’s in full work and we’re always going to start a bit later with him, so that’s his first target.
"We’ll see how he is after that but I imagine we’ll go for the Gold Cup again. He’s been to five festivals now and is entitled to have a go at it. He’s in fine form at home but first all roads lead to Aintree."
Meanwhile, five-time Grade 1 winner Thistlecrack could take on Paisley Park in a mouthwatering clash in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury at the end of the month.
The 11-year-old rolled back the years to finish second behind Clan Des Obeaux in last year's King George before being pulled up in the Gold Cup. The Boxing Day feature will once again be his target, with the Long Distance Hurdle used as a pipe-opener ahead of that run.
Tizzard said: "Thistlecrack might have a run at Newbury and then he'll head back to Kempton for the King George. He's set to go for a gallop at the track next Tuesday [November 19] and then go to Newbury for the Long Distance Hurdle.
"I know Paisley Park’s going there but it’s very much a prep run to be spot on for the King George."
The assistant trainer also provided updates on Lostintranslation, who is set to tackle the Betfair Chase in a potential bid for the jumps triple crown, and Elegant Escape, who could also line-up at Haydock on November 23.
He said: "As things stand I couldn’t be happier with Lostintranslation two weeks ahead of the Betfair Chase. He ticked all the boxes up at Carlisle, had a nice blow and jumped brilliantly.
"We've had a long conversation about Elegant Escape joining him as he's recovered well from his second in the Charlie Hall, but the Ladbrokes Trophy is another option.
"The Betfair Chase would be another step up but we're committed as it stands, and if it's looking soft we might take our chance. If not we'll go for the Ladbrokes Trophy and then maybe another tilt at the Welsh National."
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