Colin Tizzard looking like Dorset's best hope of Cheltenham Festival glory
PUBLISHED: 16:09 17 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:44 17 January 2019
Situated in Sherborne, Venn Farm is home to Colin Tizzard and his racing team. The facilities are a short distance away from Wincanton Racecourse.
Although he has held a professional horse training license since 1998 - currently housing around 60 horses - Colin only burst into the spotlight last year, where he made a large enough statement to put him amongst the UK and Ireland’s most decorated trainers. Previous efforts saw gradual wins, but the 2018 Cheltenham Festival was where he won The Gold Cup with Native River. The story of Colin is spectacular, as he originally started out as a dairy farmer before turning his family farm into a stable to delve into his passion for horse racing.
The horse racing world’s favourite underdog
Upon winning last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup with Native River, Colin was given credit by fans and pundits of the sport for staying humble despite landing one of the biggest wins horse racing has to offer. Seeing the emotion in his face after winning such a prestigious race is to be expected but the way in which Tizzard achieved such a feat only prompted more praise, especially as no more than nine hours earlier, he and his son were checking that all 300 cows at Venn Farm had been milked before making the journey to Cheltenham Racecourse. Previous efforts saw wins for Cue Card in the 2010 Champion Bumper, the 2014 Ryanair Chase, and the 2015 King George VI Chase at Kempton, with wins for Kilbriken Storm in The Albert Bartlett Novice’s Hurdle and Thistlecrack in The Stayers’ Hurdle.
How do fans of horse racing rate Colin Tizzard’s chances at this year’s festival?
When it comes to estimating the outcome, who best to ask than the fans? The Winners Enclosure are a favourite among twitter when it comes to horse racing so they put out polls questioning the outcome of some of Cheltenham’s biggest race meetings. The first of these polls focused on The Gold Cup.
Although Native River sat as second favourite behind Presenting Percy, followers of The Winners Enclosure judged the outcome of the race in a very different way, seeing Native River as the expected winner.
From four horses who’ve seen their prices shorten in the build-up to The Gold Cup, there was interest in choosing each option as a worthy outsider. Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite took the win in this case, followed by Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red and a draw for third as both Willie Mullins’ Al Boum Photo and Colin Tizzard’s Elegant Escape sealed 45 votes each.
A period at the start of 2019 saw a total of twenty-two possible entries into Cheltenham Colin, but with time running out on the decision over which horses will officially run in each race, he’s able to offer more clarity over how he will assess his chances. Lostintranslation has been that a lot of fans are eagerly keeping tabs on, winning the 2017 Ladbrokes National Hunt Maiden Hurdle at Newbury and starting 2019 in a positive light through winning The Betbright Dipper Novices’ Chase. With an outside chance of stealing a win in The RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase, The Winners Enclosure once again left the decision to their followers over how much Lostintranslation could compete.
Expectations see an almost certain win for Nicky Henderson’s Santini in this race but Lostintranslation covered a quarter of the total vote.
Other honourable mentions for Dorset-based entries into Cheltenham
Anthony Honeyball has entries in the form of Acey Milan in The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, where he’s a massive outsider. A more promising entry into Cheltenham Festival 2019 is Unowhatimeanharry, trained by four-time Grade One race winner Harry Fry, whose stables are situated in Seaborough. Harry Fry currently entertains seventeen entries into Cheltenham this year. All of these horses are outsiders but one with a lot of prospect is Unowhatimeanharry - a horse helped by recent form, as he won The Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle for a second successive year in November.
Unowhatimeanharry’s chances in The Stayers’ Hurdle appear to be slim from a first glance, but The Winners Enclosure created a poll, quizzing their followers whether Unowhatimeanharry would win, place, or fall short. After twenty-four hours of voting, it was decided that he stood a stronger chance of placing than he did of getting nothing from the race.