Power grabs big double on glory day for Tizzard
After all the hype and expectation, things did not pan out for Colin Tizzard at Cheltenham but he left Aintree yesterday on Cloud Nine following a treble courtesy of Pingshou, Fox Norton and Ultragold.
His first two were welcome high- profile winners for big-spending owners Alan and Anne Potts, but his third, the 50/1 shot Ultragold in the Topham Chase will have given him as much pleasure as any this season given that it was Harry Cobden's first ride over the famous fences.
Tizzard's relationship with the jockey is almost like that of father and son.
"I hunted alongside him when he was a boy," said Tizzard. "I was thinking three out, 'Sit still, Harry,' and he did. He's got a brain. I enjoyed that and I expect his mum and dad did, too. Harry's always been around. He's teaching my grandson to ride in pony races now and he rides Harry's old pony."
Cobden, who rides Just A Par in today's Grand National, said he had fancied Ultragold despite his price. "He ran well last time," he said. "He jumps well and had a light weight. He jumped like a buck."
Fox Norton, an expensive autumn purchase, came closest to giving Tizzard a winner at Cheltenham when just failing to catch Special Tiara in the Champion Chase, but he relished the two-and-a-half miles of the JLT Melling Chase here and Tizzard believes he will go even further next season.
untidy After a couple of untidy jumps early on - Potts' jockey Robbie Power put it down to getting to know the horse - he landed in front at the second-last and galloped six lengths clear of Sub Lieutenant.
Tizzard said: "It's lovely when this happens, especially after what it was like at Cheltenham. That was hard work.
"This boy could have won the Champion Chase. There wasn't much in it and he's got better with the trip, I think.
"It took all of two miles last year for him to get into third in the Arkle. He's not very fast at home when you think he would be, but I think he'll make up into a King George horse.
"That's seven Grade Ones this season which is lovely. We had a good time early in the season and then we had to go through a bit of pain, but that's all gone now."
Power enjoyed his first big-race success since becoming retained rider to the Potts when steering Pingshou to a surprise success in the Top Novices' Hurdle. Ridden prominently throughout, the lightly-raced seven-year-old was sent on by Power past early leader Chti Balko into what was to be a decisive lead over the third-last.
As the 16/1 chance readily opened up a healthy lead down towards the penultimate flight, many of his rivals failed to have the gears to go with him, with only Mount Mews emerging from the chasing pack as a potential threat going to the last.
But his effort was not enough to peg back Pingshou, with four-and-a-half lengths splitting the pair at the line. The Unit was third.
Power said: "That's a great way to start the new job. I sat on this horse last week and absolutely loved him.
"He ran a bit disappointingly at Cheltenham (10th in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle), but he's really come in his coat now."
If Might Bite was the villain, albeit a winning one at Cheltenham, he was the hero here yesterday when he beat his old sparring partner, Whisper, by two lengths to win the Betway Mildmay Novice Chase.
Nicky Henderson's eight-year-old was on his best behaviour and, for a horse whose jumping has been labelled 'dodgy', it was his jumping, particularly the long one he gave Nico de Boinville at the last, which sealed victory. After a one-two in Thursday's Aintree Hurdle and a one-two here, Nicky Henderson is back in the driving seat for the British trainers' title.
"Left or right, up and down or flat, he can handle any track and he can even jump the last well if he wants," said the trainer.
"But how he was going at Kempton (when he fell at the last) makes you think the King George will be the aim next season."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)