Native River May Be Tempted By Grand National This Year
Native River provided his connections with arguably the best day they have had in racing when he landed the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018. He made just about every yard of the running at Prestbury Park in a stunning performance.
The 10-year-old has always enjoyed a stamina test, while his jumping has been exemplary over fences where he has completed the course on all 17 of his chase appearances.
Although his trainer Colin Tizzard has yet to confirm if the Randox Health Grand National is in their plans this season with Native River, the bookmakers make him a 14/1* shot for the race. His odds are likely be even shorter come the day if he lines up in the 40-runner field.
Success to begin the season at Aintree
Native River made a successful return to action in the Many Clouds Chase last month at Aintree, prevailing by 33-lengths after going off as the 5/6 favourite.
The 2018 Gold Cup winner came up against Might Bite, who he went toe-to-toe with in the Blue Riband event at the Festival two years ago. Unfortunately for the latter, he unseated Nico de Boinville at the fourth fence, therefore, racing fans were denied the chance to see the pair battle it out at the finish again.
Tizzard would have been delighted with the way his horse fared on his return to action after the summer break. He jumped well once again and looked in great shape.
Welsh Grand National Challenge was turned down
The Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and the King George VI Chase at Kempton were two races in which Native River could have appeared in during the festive period. Connections, however, opted against running in either of those.
Native River won the Welsh Grand National in 2016, outstaying his rivals on that day in the 3m5½f contest after going off as the well-backed 11/4 favourite. Instead, his stablemate and defending champion Elegant Escape took part in the race which was won by local horse Potters Corner.
The Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham or the Denman Chase at Newbury look likely to be Native River’s next target. He won the latter in 2018, a month prior to his Gold Cup success.
Recent winners prove weight is no longer a big issue in the Grand National
The recent roll of honour in the Grand National, which includes Neptune Collonges (2012), Many Clouds (2015) and Tiger Roll (2018 and 2019), suggests that the higher rated horses can now carry 11 stone plus to victory in the race.
Trainers are more tempted than they have ever been to run their better horses over the bigger fences and take a chance at the top end of the racecard.
Given what he has achieved in the sport, Native River would need to carry one of the highest weights in the race, if not top weight, which no horse has won with since Red Rum in 1977.
If Native River does feature alongside Tiger Roll, Irish Grand National winner Burrows Spirit and Becher successor Walk In The Mill, the 2020 running of the race could be one of the very best yet!
*Odds subject to change.