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  • 14:50 Betfred Mildmay Novices' Chase 3m 210y

  • (Grade 1) £100,000 added 5yo+ 8 ran
  • Winner £56,270 2nd £21,200 3rd £10,610 4th £5,300
  • Going: Good to Soft (Good in places)
  • Surface: Turf
  • Winning time: 6m 27.60s
  • Off time: 14:50:41

Colin Tizzard wins Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree with Native River

Last Updated: 08/04/16 6:17pm

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Native River passes the winning post in the Betfred Mildmay Novices' Chase

Native River passes the winning post in the Betfred Mildmay Novices' Chase

Native River jumped his rivals into submission in the Grade One Betfred Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree.

The Colin Tizzard-trained six-year-old returned to his good early season form when second in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and went one better at odds of 11/2.

Given a positive ride by Richard Johnson, a number of the field were soon in trouble with Roi Des Francs, Out Sam and Otago Trail never looking happy.

In contrast, the progressive Henri Parry Morgan and Cheltenham Festival winners Un Temps Pour Tout, Blaklion and Ballyalton tracked him throughout with the latter moving particularly strongly.

His stamina appeared to be give way in the straight while Un Temps Pour Tout was the first to cry enough but the RSA Chase winner Blaklion and Henry Parry Morgan were clinging to his coat-tails.

That was as close as the pair got though as Native River kept pulling out more for the Champion Jockey elect with the pair going on to score by three lengths and three and a half lengths.

Having drawn a blank at Cheltenham Festival, it was a welcome big-race winner for Johnson.

The popular rider will be crowned champion jockey for the first time on the final day of the campaign at Sandown, but this was surprisingly his first Grade One winner of the season.

He said: "Cheltenham was frustrating and today, after finishing second in the first race, you feel like it's never going to happen.

"This horse has jumped really well and every time I asked him he kept responding. All the way from the second-last to the winning post, he kept giving me a bit more, which is all you can ask from a racehorse.

"He ran a great race at Cheltenham and Colin Tizzard's horses are in great form. I've had a great season, but to have a winner at a Festival does cap it all.

"It's fantastic."

The trainer's son and assistant, Joe Tizzard, said: "These are very special days and hats off to Dickie (Johnson), he's given him a cracking ride.

"The horse is a bit lazy, but he just keeps galloping. He ran very well at Cheltenham and today he was better again, perhaps.

"He's a lovely horse and he's improving all the time."

A trip across the Irish Sea could now be on Native River's agenda.

Tizzard senior said: "I've entered him for the novice chase at Punchestown. He's in good form and he's only a novice for now.

"If he had been beaten here, we wouldn't think of going but he's in good form like all my horses. You have to keep running them when they are in good form. There is plenty of time when they're not in good form, but I'll have to get round the owners.

"It was a fantastic ride by Richard Johnson. He got on the horse whose main aptitude is staying, so he made it hard work for them in behind.

"This ground was right up his street. All he does is stay. He's not very fast."

Peter Bowen, trainer of the runner-up, said: "He's run very well and is definitely on the up.

"He's amazing - he's improved a stone every time he's run over fences. When he was hurdling he reached a mark of 130 tops. He beat that good horse of Emma Lavelle's [Crack Away Jack] at Southwell last year, and I thought he must have some ability, but he went off the boil a bit. We gave him a bit of time to come back, and when he saw a fence he was a different horse.

"A tongue strap has helped - he's had a breathing op - and it will stay on. The horse is happy in it and he's on the up and up.

"He looks a Grade One performer now and won't be able to run in handicaps after that. He's in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and will be able to run there off this mark with a penalty, so I should think that will be next. He really jumps and he's so quick through the air."

Nigel Twiston-Davies was impressed with the way Blaklion equipped himself after a long season.

"It was a really good run. It's not Cheltenham which certainly suited him better," he said.

"He's had quite a few runs this season and perhaps if he had come straight here and missed the Festival he might have won it. But I'm delighted with him. He'll have a nice break over the summer and he'll be back next season."

Jockey Ryan Hatch said: "We got rolling but at the end we had nothing left. It has been a long season and he deserves a holiday now. 

"Maybe the speed of the track didn't suit him but he travelled and jumped beautifully on it. He has still run a cracking race and we can look forward next year." 

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