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  • 14:35 Letheby & Christopher Chase 3m 1f 110y

  • (grade 2) £100,000 added 5yo+ 8 ran
  • Winner: £
  • Going: Heavy, Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 7m 11.80s
  • Off time: 14:37:02

Joy For Joe At Cheltenham

Last Updated: 19/02/09 12:23pm

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Joe Lively - caused an 11-1 surprise.

Joe Lively - caused an 11-1 surprise.

Joe Lively could bid for an audacious Gold Cup-Grand National double after a heartwarming success for the Tizzard family in the Letheby & Christopher Chase at Cheltenham.

Trainer Colin Tizzard is planning to "play the big game" after his 10-year-old made virtually all the running under his son Joe to cause an 11-1 upset in the blue riband trial.

With 2006 Welsh National winner Halcon Genelardais and last year's Arkle victor Tidal Bay in opposition, Joe Lively appeared to have his work cut out but he rose to the challenge in determined fashion.

Star De Mohaison moved ominously well just off the pace heading down the hill and Joe Lively's race appeared over after he blundered his way over the second last.

But Star De Mohaison quickly emptied and the Tizzard flag-bearer gathered himself up to scrap his way past Halcon Genelardais and claim a near three-length success.

Dorset dairy farmer Tizzard will now prepare the winner for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, for which the sponsors trimmed him into 25s from 100-1.

Boylesports also made him a 20-1 chance for the John Smith's Grand National.

Tizzard, who has 35 horses in training and also cares for 250 cows, said: "It all played into our hands today. The ground suited him and front-runners aren't coming back to them.

"He nearly threw it away at the second-last and landed sideways but he stayed on again.

"He's a courageous chap and we've been to the well with him a few times but he keeps on dishing it up. I didn't know how he'd handle the ground but today was our day and he does stay.

"I'm not exactly sure where he'll go next. There is a race at Haydock but we're more than likely to play the big game and go for the Gold Cup and the Grand National.

"He has been an absolute flag-bearer for us. He came as a selling-plater who we thought needed a road to gallop on but now he has won the Letheby & Christopher on heavy ground."

Tizzard junior admitted to almost bursting into tears on crossing the line such was the sentimental value of the win.

He said: "It suited him to make the running and that is how we always ride him.

"When he is in front he pricks his ears and saves a bit for himself but he is a different horse around Cheltenham. When he gets to the top of the hill he knows where he is and quickens without being asked.

"He has so much guts and knows where the line is. After making the mistake he wanted to be back in front. He is all heart and is a very, very special horse to us.

"He'll go for the Gold Cup now and he deserves to take his chance. If all goes well there, he'll then go to the National."

Halcon Genelardais was third in the race two years ago, and trainer Alan King thought his charge had managed to go two places better jumping the last.

He said: "I just think he hates Cheltenham. I thought before the last it was all over and I'm disappointed."

Howard Johnson was pleased with Tidal Bay's performance but is now planning to aim at the Ryanair Chase rather than the Gold Cup.

He said: "It was a great run on that ground and I'm over the moon.

"I'm going to come back in trip and into the Ryanair. I'll leave him in the Champion Chase too in case Master Minded were to go wrong."

Barry Simpson, racing manager to Star De Mohaison's owner Sir Robert Ogden, admitted their team also have some serious thinking to do ahead of the Festival.

He said: "I'm delighted with the way he travelled but he just emptied out and finished very tired.

"Whether he is a Gold Cup contender I don't know - he could finish in the frame but he needs to improve.

"He could possibly run in the William Hill at the Festival instead."

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