You’d like to think that trainer Colin Tizzard is grumpy when he arises early to milk his cows. Who wouldn’t be miserable, having to do that in all weathers when the comfort of a warm bed is the alternative?
Colin Tizzard is that man. Have you seen him looking fed up? No, neither have I.
A gentle smile comes easily to Colin Tizzard. When he has a winner at the races you’ll not find him jumping for joy, offering a clenched fist to a TV camera or acting like a football manager whose team score a last minute winner.
And yet Colin Tizzard has plenty of reasons to celebrate.
On Boxing Day two of the finest horses he trains will go to post at Kempton Park. In the blue corner, a previous winner of the King George VI Chase, Cue Card. In the orange corner, his younger stablemate, Thistlecrack. Jump racing fans are salivating at the prospect.
But the success of the Colin Tizzard stable is about much more than the two high profile horses he’s photographed with above.
The farm has long been in the family. Colin’s father Leslie was himself a dairy farmer with a training permit, now three of Colin’s four sons share responsibilities for Venn Farm. But it’s Joe, a former stable jockey to Paul Nicholls, and his sister Kim who Colin has relied on the most.
Colin Tizzard told Peter Thomas of the Racing Post: “We had to decide whether we wanted to be seen as dairy farmers with a few horses or proper trainers with a few cows. So we built this place to show people we meant business and the results have been amazing.
“I’m a full time trainer now and Joe keeps his eye on the farm and takes the worry of that away from me. In time he can be a racehorse trainer. It’s still an absolute pleasure to have a daughter, wife and son all working towards it and loving it as much as I do.”
There is no chance that the farming side of the business will be set aside amidst all the success Tizzard is enjoying at the races. The Fresians will not be frozen out. The success of Cue Card and Thistlecrack has not heralded the end of a working dairy farm.
Tizzard says: “We keep the farm going for our security. Racing is a very fickle business. One day everybody wants to talk to you and send you horses, but six months down the road that can change. At least with the farm still going strong I haven’t got to worry about that.”
It’s great news that the owners of Thistlecrack, John and Heather Snook, have opted to enter their eight year old gelding in the King George VI Chase. It’s clearly a decision that has the agreement of the trainer whose policy on race entries is simple and clear.
Colin Tizzard explains: “I tell owners ‘you can run a horse wherever you want, whenever you want, but if I don’t agree, it won’t be happening’.”
Speaking to the Racing Post prior to the announcement that Thistlecrack goes for the big one on Boxing Day, Tizzard said: “The only reason you wouldn’t put Thistlecrack in the King George is that he’s a novice….going up six rungs at once. If it went pear-shaped, we’d wish we hadn’t done it. But that doesn’t worry me at all – it’s just part of racing horses.”
Those quotes came just one week after the Dorset trainer said this of Thistlecrack following his facile victory in a much easier race at Newbury. Then Tizzard said: “The King George is a real test of any horse, so whether he (Thistlecrack) is ready for that, I wouldn’t have thought so.”
A week is a long time in racing. Clearly someone persuaded Tizzard that Thistlecrack, still a novice, should be allowed a crack at the highlight of the Boxing Day feature at Kempton.
My subscribers already have my selection to win the King George. If you want it, then click on this link to join VG Tips before Boxing Day.
After all, VG Tips members were in the money when backing a Tizzard horse, Native River, at ante-post odds of 10/1 to win the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Native River will go off as favourite to win the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow. That race will come along 24 hours after we’ve see which horse wins the King George at Kempton.
Tizzard told Marcus Armytage: “If I knew what I was doing right I’d be living in the Bahamas by now. I’ve got all the toys and I can’t quite believe it. Have we found them? I think they’ve found me. At the moment we’re running one day to the next. There’s no time to get worried about it and I’m old enough to be enjoying it.”
That’s good to hear. It’s going to be a busy Christmas for the ever modest Colin Tizzard. He’s more likely to be appearing on television than watching it. But it’s his horses that will be the star attraction for me and all those who love National Hunt racing at its finest.