Native River is a surprise possibility to join stablemate Lostintranslation in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.
Lostintranslation is challenging the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname for favouritism for the three-mile showpiece at Kempton on Boxing Day, having proved himself a genuine top-class staying chaser when defeating Bristol De Mai in last month’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Native River was third in last year’s King George – and while he is not currently entered in this year’s renewal, Tizzard could supplement the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero at a cost of £10,000, if testing conditions prevail.
“I hope it rains every day between now and Kempton, then I might run Native River as well,” Tizzard revealed during a media event at his yard on Tuesday morning.
“It might be that they go flat out in the King George and that is why we are keeping the door half open. If the ground came up soft or even heavy, then he could be supplemented.”
Native River proved his ability remains very much intact when dominating from the front in Saturday’s Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, although his task was made easier by the early exit of his old foe Might Bite.
Ladbrokes have introduced him into the King George betting at 16-1.
Tizzard added: “We have seen it before, the real stayers can win around Kempton. People say it is a fast track and it is, but in the King George they go so fast, stamina is a big issue at the end and we do not want to shut any doors at the moment.”
Lostintranslation is very much Tizzard’s chief hope following his impressive display on Merseyside last month – and he is reported to be in rude health.
“Lostintranslation has come out of Haydock beautifully. He is a big, strong horse in the peak of his powers at the moment and I couldn’t be happier with him,” said Tizzard.
“There is no doubt he has got the pace for Kempton and he showed at Haydock he has got more stamina than Bristol De Mai, which is another feather in his cap.
“He is a beautiful horse, but it is going to be a really tough race. Cyrname looks fantastic, Altior is a fantastic horse, Clan Des Obeaux won it last year and I don’t know what the Irish are going to send over.”
Victory for Lostintranslation on Boxing Day would leave him on course to complete the elusive Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown, with Jockey Club Racecourses again offering a £1million bonus for winning the Betfair Chase, King George and Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The brilliant Kauto Star is the only horse to have ever achieved the remarkable feat during an unbeaten 2006/07 campaign, with Tizzard’s former stable star Cue Card coming closest to repeating the trick – winning the first two legs before falling in the 2016 Gold Cup.
“Lostintranslation is straightforward at home and he has now moved into Cue Card’s box, which tells a story of where we think he is,” the trainer continued.
“He has still got to do it. He still hasn’t won a King George and he still has not won a Gold Cup – it is still all in front of him.
“Cue Card did it all. Lostintranslation hasn’t done that yet, but he has got all the attributes to be a staying chaser and that is hopefully what he will be.
“Kauto Star is the only horse to have won the Jockey Club Triple Crown and he is probably one of the best horses of my lifetime, so that’s how difficult a challenge it is.”
Tizzard has not yet ruled out Thistlecrack having a fourth tilt at the King George, having won the race in 2016, finished fourth in 2017 and filled the runner-up spot 12 months ago.
However, the Dorset handler is currently in favour of running in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on December 21, with Thistlecrack having proved he retains plenty of ability when runner-up to star staying hurdler Paisley Park at Newbury recently.
Tizzard said: “Thistlecrack has come out of the race at Newbury fine. The question for ourselves is, is the staying hurdle division easier than the King George/Gold Cup division? Yes it is.
“There is a very good chance he will stay over hurdles. If one or two in the King George dropped out that might change, but at the moment I would say we are leaning towards the hurdles route.
“It was a lovely run at Newbury. He is 11 going on 12, so we have got to mind him because he has been delicate.
“He might only want three runs this year and if we don’t think he is right (for Ascot) we might wait until the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham at the end of January.”