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Native River Aims To Join An Elite Club at Cheltenham Tomorrow

Thu, Mar 16, 2017

Tomorrow (Friday 17th March) Native River aims for a place in the history books by joining an elite list of horses to have won both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Coral Welsh Grand National.

The seven year old, trained by Colin Tizzard, is strongly fancied to take the prize at Prestbury Park from his stable mate Cue Card and Irish challenger Djakadam.

Here we take a look at the four horses that have already achieved the feat:

With the benefit of hindsight, Burrough Hill Lad being set to carry ten stone nine pounds in the 1983 Welsh National was a license to print money.

When the weights were published the horse’s trainer Jenny Pitman declared that, "There was no way he could get beaten,” and his owners helped themselves from 20/1 down to 100/30. John Francome piloted him to a facile victory.

Next year the horse proved himself the best chaser in the land by winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup under Phil Tuck, and in the autumn he took the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup and the King George VI Chase.

Cool Ground was laid out for the 1990 Welsh National by the handicap maestro Reg Akehurst, who was better known for his training of flat racers. Jumping well for Luke Harvey, he drew clear three fences from home to win by seven lengths.

He won twice more before coming fourth in the Gold Cup and third in the Irish National. Transferred to Toby Balding after that, he came back to form to score at Chepstow over 3m6f in February 1992 and even though soon after that he beat the useful Kildimo at Haydock he was allowed to go off at 25/1 for the Gold Cup.
Benefiting from a vintage Adrian Maguire ride, he outstayed The Fellow to win by a short head.

The 1994 Welsh National was run on New Year’s Eve at Newbury after waterlogging prevented it being run at Chepstow. Soft going suited Master Oats, who was in the process of winning nine races out of twelve in two very wet seasons. His trainer Kim Bailey had worked wonders to solve the problem of the horse bursting blood vessels.

He was always travelling supremely well for his regular jockey Norman Williamson, sauntered into the lead at the fourth last and strolled to a 20 length win. Four weeks later he won at Cheltenham by 15 lengths and in March took the Gold Cup by the same margin.

Snow delayed the running of the 2010 Welsh National until a week into the New Year. The chance of Synchronised was plain for all to see, for he had won last season’s Midlands Grand National over half a mile further on heavy going, familiar conditions at Chepstow. With AP McCoy on board he collared the long-time leader Giles Cross between the last two obstacles to prevail by two and three quarter lengths.

His next four runs seemed to show his limitations, but in December 2011 he scored a surprise win in the valuable Lexus Chase at Leopardstown to earn a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He won that as well, to give owner JP McManus and trainer Jonjo O’Neill their first success in the race.

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Jim Beavis