One of racings greatest staying horses, Native River was rumoured to be eyed up at the 2020 Grand National this season but it looks like trainer Colin Tizzard and owner Garth Broom are now steering away from this with his big aim being the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Although both the 10 year olds trainer and connections have not officially ruled out a trip to Merseyside in April it does look like the quick turn around from the Gold Cup to the Grand National will just be to short a time for the horse.
The 2018 Gold Cup winner is looking to get back his title this season after finishing fourth in the event last season and this term he has been going the right way about it, racing twice and seeing off his opposition with ease.
He started his season off at Aintree in the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase and went on to take the contest by over 50 lengths, with the field including Might Bite and Black Corton.
Now slightly older Tizzard has to be more patient with him and he was given some time after the race and reappeared at Newbury last weekend in the Denman Chase which he won by four lengths for the third time in his career.
This is a perfect prep run ahead of the festival with the ground being much quicker than he usually likes but he did what he always does best and stayed better than the rest of the field.
The Grand National weights have now been revealed ahead of the Aintree feature with the star going off a mark of 166 at 11st 6lb.
(Credit At The Races) "It will be interesting to see what weight he gets, but his main aim this year is the Gold Cup,” said Broom.
“If he has a hard race it’s only three weeks to the National – so I wouldn’t advise anyone to put any money on him, because if he runs his race I don’t know if he’d have enough recovery time. He goes well fresh.
“Maybe next season it could be more of a target – when he’ll be 11 and the Gold Cup looks a little unrealistic – but if something happened and he couldn’t run in the Gold Cup then we’d still have another option.
“The thing is I think the horse is brave enough for the National – but I don’t know if the owners are! We get so uptight, even on Saturday. We love him so much.
“With your head, he looks ideal for the National. But the problem is the owners, not the horse – we’ve got so attached to him. If anything happened we’d never forgive ourselves.
“If he’s fit and well next season it’s more likely. This season it’s more on stand-by. If he runs his race in the Gold Cup I couldn’t see him running, but we’re not ruling it completely out at this stage.
“He wins his races by making all – but can you make all over four and a quarter miles? That’s the million-dollar question, I suppose.”