Native River (yellow sleeves) winning the Hennessy Gold Cup
PICTURE: Getty Images
By Keith Melrose 1:00pM 24 DEC 2016
TUESDAY’S Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow is the race that Richard Johnson is most looking forward to over Christmas, as he once again teams up with Hennessy Gold Cup winner Native River.
The two looked a perfect match at Newbury, Native River responding all the way up the straight under one of Johnson’s trademark swashbuckling rides that had him close to the speed all the way.
Horses with a similar running style very often fare well at Chepstow and, speaking on his Betway blog, Johnson seems to think he will be sitting on an outstanding contender.
“If the ground stays decent, then hopefully I’ll be on Native River in the Welsh National,” he said. “I’d like to think that if he’s in the same form of his Hennessy win then he’d take a lot of beating.”
The champion jockey added: “He’s definitely an improving horse and seems to be thriving on his racing. The Tizzard team have their horses in rude health, and as long as the ground is suitable he’s one I’m most looking forward to over Christmas.”
Native River was on Saturday morning a general 6-1 favourite to complete a double that last went to Playschool, ridden by one Paul Nicholls, in 1987. He is also 20-1 for the Gold Cup, a race dominated by stablemates and King George rivals on Monday Thistlecrack and Cue Card.