Tizzard turns to familiar launchpad for JLT favourite Reserve Tank's chase debut

Colin Tizzard will use a tried-and-trusted route to launch the chasing career of Reserve Tank, a dual-Grade 1 winner over hurdles last term who is set to be among the headline names in action as the jumps season clicks into gear at Chepstow this weekend.

Owned by The Reserve Tankers, the five-year-old emerged a horse going places in the spring, winning the Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree's Grand National meeting before following up in the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown festival.

He is the general 12-1 market leader for the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and set to appear in Saturday's 2m3½f Listed novice chase – an event former Tizzard stars Cue Card and Finian's Oscar won on their debuts over fences.

The yard has also used Chepstow as a novice chase springboard for Native River, who was beaten in Saturday's race, Thistlecrack and Elegant Escape, subsequent winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, King George VI Chase and Welsh Grand National.

"We've had this race in mind since he came in and he's had two or three schooling sessions and been very good," said the trainer. 

"The ground will be lovely and the trip is right. He travelled supremely well at Punchestown and you wouldn't be afraid of coming back in trip, but for the moment two and a half miles is ideal.

"I don't know how good he'll be over fences, but he's done nothing wrong on his last two starts – in Grade 1 races – and was mightily impressive, so he's a very good horse.

"We've started our best ones there. I'm not saying we're doing this because of that reason, but it didn't hurt Cue Card, Native River or Thistlecrack. It seems a nice race for Reserve Tank."

The Dorset-based Tizzard confirmed Robbie Power would travel from Ireland to ride Reserve Tank.

He added: "Last season was our first with him and he went from what I thought would be a handicapper to a dual Grade 1 winner. He progressed with racing and works beautifully and schools well, so we've decided to get on with chasing because we think it's the best route for him.

"If he stayed hurdling and went handicapping he'd be in some of the toughest race of the year, while even if he improved enough to be a Champion Hurdle or Stayers' Hurdle horse it is going to be massively difficult, so we think chasing is the easier option.

"Robbie will be over for half a dozen and came over last week to school all the ones he'll be riding, including Reserve Tank."

Tizzard has a whopping 18 entries at the two-day meeting and Coral have shortened Fiddlerontheroof to 5-1 (from 8) for Friday's Unibet Persian War Novices' Hurdle, while stablemate Beaufort West is 8-1 (from 10) with the firm for the Cotswold Stone Supplies Ltd Silver Trophy on Saturday.

However, when asked what else he was looking forward to running, Tizzard replied: "I think Highest Sun should be hard to beat in the handicap hurdle on Saturday."