Owned by Garth and Anne Broom, under the banner of Brocade Racing, and trained by Colin Tizzard in Milborne Port, Dorset is a bay gelding, by Indian River out of a Be My Native, best known for winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018. Having finished third, beaten 2¾ lengths and a short head by Sizing Europe and Minella Rocco, in the Cheltenham showpiece in 2017, Native River was involved in an epic duel with Might Bite in 2018, eventually outstaying his main market rival in the last half-a-furlong or so to win by 4½ lengths, with 33/1 outsider Anable Fly a further 4 lengths away in third. In so doing, Native River gave trainer Colin Tizzard his first winner in the race.
Immediately after the race, Tizzard said, “It was unreal, wasn’t it? To win the Cheltenham Gold Cup means everything to everyone’s life. Let's not pretend it’s not,” adding, “We’ve had a wonderful preparation and you think something could go wrong in the race, but it didn’t.”
Unlike in 2017, when the Cheltenham Gold Cup was something of an afterthought after victories in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow and Betfair Denman Chase, also at Newbury, Native River was trained with the “Blue Riband” event as his only major target of the season in 2018. En route, he did win the Betfair Denman Chase for second year running, jumping well for a ready 12-length win over Cloudy Dreams.
In winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Native River achieved a Timeform rating of 172, still 10lb inferior to that achieved by his stable companion Cue Card in his heyday, but he is still only eight years old and remains relatively lightly raced, so it remains to be seen where he ends up in the hierarchy of staying chasers since World War II. Currently 8/1 third favourite, behind Presenting Percy and Might Bite, for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019, Native River has stamina in abundance, but isn’t, necessarily an out-and-out mudlark so, barring accidents, looks one to keep on the right side wherever he goes.