Native Rise Must Improve on the Big Stage to Win Grand National

Source: Jimbo_JumpsMan via Twitter

One for Arthur’s injury has opened up the 2018 Grand National for the rest of the field. Native River is one of the horses that will be aiming to capitalise on his absence from Aintree in April. The Irish horse did not compete at the National last season, but was present for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Colin Tizzard’s charge was one of the competitors expected to challenge for the crown. However, he was unable to lift the level of his display, losing out to Sizing John. The chestnut gelding’s camp will be hopeful that he can continue to make strides in his development in the 2017-18 National Hunt campaign.

The seven-year-old has improved greatly from the early stages of his career and it would not be a surprise to see him to deliver a victory at the Grand National next year – therefore it’s definitely worth tracking his performances and odds at to get a good value on a punt on the most prestigious race on the calendar.

Native River rose to prominence in the 2015-16 season when he built off a series of solid performances to make a meaningful crack at the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup at Cheltenham Festival. He had notched five wins in his 12 races before the meet, but had not delivered on the big stage. The chestnut gelding struggled in the early stages of the race as he lacked rhythm with Michael Legg in the saddle, but gradually managed to right itself.  

The Irish horse upped the ante in the closing stages to surge down the straight, although he just lacked the pace to beat out Minella Rocco for the crown, losing out by one-and-a-quarter lengths. However, Native River used the performance at Cheltenham as momentum. He put forward a fine run in his next outing – his first appearance at Aintree – to win the Mildmay Novices’ Chase by a comfortable margin ahead of a talented field, including Blaklion.

Tizzard’s charge continued his good form at the start of the 2016-17 season with a second-place finish at Wetherby. He was back to winning ways, meeting expectations with a victory at the Hennessy Gold Cup Chase after being considered the favourite for the meet. With Richard Johnson in the saddle, the jockey timed the Irish horse’s move to perfection down the stretch to claim the win by half-a-length.

Native River backed his efforts up with a stronger performance at the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow. The chestnut gelding came through the field with ease and was able to canter down the stretch to secure the victory by one-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Raz De Maree. His form continued at the start of 2017 with a solid outing at the Denman Chase, although the field was limited at Newbury.

Source: Racing Post via Twitter

The Irish horse had form heading into the Gold Cup, but did not have the pace when it mattered the most to close the gap to Sizing John. His old foe Minella Rocco also finished ahead of him, with Tizzard’s charge placing in third, albeit only a short head behind his compatriot. However, he will have to stage an improvement on the bigger stages to earn the major plaudits as those talented competitors will be there to stand in his way again.