29 Grade 1 Winners. How does Trainer Colin Tizzard Achieve His Success?

Native River.Winner of Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018 trained by Colin Tizzard

Following a successful career as a National Hunt jockey, Colin Tizzard first took out his training license in 1998 with just ten horses under his care. Since then he has trained winners of most of the prestigious National Hunt races in the UK. We spent a rather wet but pleasant morning at Venn Farm near Sherborne in Dorset seeing the trainer and his team in action.

Horses waiting to go into school for jumping education

The first thing that was so noticeable was how relaxed and calm the whole yard was – despite all the busy comings and goings of horses milling around.  All the horses seemed really content and relaxed as well as the staff going about their daily work. This yard is very much a family run affair. Along with Colin, there is his daughter Kim and son and also former national hunt jockey Joe. The Tizzard  family run yard clearly has a quiet determination to send out winners and obviously work extremely hard to achieve this. They also put great emphasis on giving their owners a fruitful and enjoyable experience. They are always welcomed to the yard and today there were several owners to see their horses being trained, discuss how they were going and what possible future races there may be. To date, there have been 660 winners sent out from the yard with 29 of them being at the top Grade 1 level.

Colin Tizzard with his beady eye checking his charges

On arriving at the yard at 8am in the pouring rain, I was met by one of the owners, Richard Jones, a partner in a partnership with have five young horses at the yard. Colin was already down at the Olympic sized school a mile or so away, schooling horses over jumps and assessing each one with his beady eye.

Today was a main work day with four jockeys riding horses out, so an early start was essential so they could take up their appointed rides in the afternoon at the races. Kim and Joe were organising the list of the 130 horses in training for schooling after which, giving instructions of which horses were to do what on which of the gallops on the five hundred acre farm. It was apparent very quickly how the horses were enjoying the routine. All of them went about their regime with calmness, not a stroppy horse in sight, ears forward and an obvious willingness to please their masters and riders. All so calm and relaxed but with that professional edge required.

Venn Farm from the gallops

Venn Farm has excellent facilities which are continually being up graded. This year saw the building of a new all weather gallop to add to the original four furlong gallop. All the horses are housed within four large well ventilated barns and there are four horse walkers in

Jumping schooling in enclosed olympic school

place used for winding down horses who have had strenuous exercise or for those who are for some reason or another on the ‘easy list’. There are, as already said, 500 acres which have the various gallops, both grass and all weather with plenty more space to ride or ‘hack out’ horses in order to keep them happy and interested in life. Nothing to do with the facilities, Venn Farm is high up and despite the weather, one was struck by the beautiful surroundings and views from the gallops, particularly looking down on the village of Milborne Port and towards Sherborne. If it wasn’t for the weather, it would have made a spectacular photograph!!!

Cue Card. Colin Tizzard’s first major training success

The first major success for the yard was Cue Card, who won 9 Grade 1 races and this was the horse really to put Colin Tizzard and his training establishment ‘on the map’. Among Cue Card’s victories included the Cheltenham National Bumper Stakes in 2010 before the horse scored in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham four years later. Cue Card’s most prestigious victory however came in the King George VI Chase at Kempton in 2015. Another particular horse of note was the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Native River in 2018. Thistlecrack was another trained by Colin to win the 2016 World Hurdle, also at the famous Cheltenham Festival.

Royal Crown over jumps in school
On the gallops

The Tizzard’s currently have 130 horses in training aged from eleven to the baby four year olds. Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Native River, who is a nine year old now is still in training. One of the new recruits for this year is the four year old bay gelding Royal Crown, a French bred gelding who worked like a real dream and in the trainer’s opinion is certainly one to watch in the future. There are plenty more and so far in this current season which began in early May 2019, Colin Tizzard has sent out 15 winners with a further 19 being placed.

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