Cheltenham Festival: Native River powers to thrilling Gold Cup glory

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Trainer Colin Tizzard has achieved a lifelong ambition as Native River gave him the victory he has craved above everything else in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

When Might Bite came beside him, Native River just flew over the last.

Might Bite's handler, Nicky Henderson, was looking to become the first trainer to capture the Cheltenham Festival's three signature races in the same year - the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup. The two jumped the last fence together before 5-1 Native River gained a final advantage.

For Johnson, it was a significant triumph 18 years after he won the race for the first time aboard Looks Like Trouble.

"The more I asked, the better he jumped", Johnson said. He's just unbelievable. He jumps for fun.

The Colin Tizzard trained victor beat favourite Might Bite in a thrilling finish up the famous hill at Prestbury Park.

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"Those are two fearless horses, but I was pleased that Might Bite kept me company".

Speaking to ITV Racing, Tizzard said: "It's unreal". It is the fourth day here and the Irish have been winning everything and we thought our form isn't as good as everyone else's and then Richard Johnson gives that courageous horse that sort of ride and it has paid dividends.

However, just as Might Bite loomed to produce a final challenge, Native River's preference for the testing conditions told and Johnson eased him to victory.

"We've had a wonderful preparation with him, so you think something's going to go wrong in the race, but it didn't". His form has gone on from previous year. "I can't believe it".

"On better ground, stamina wouldn't have been an issue".

The pair are expected to resume their rivalry in next year's Gold Cup, with Native River already priced as a $6 favourite.

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