COLIN TIZZARD expects Cue Card to roll back the years in today’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
Victorious in the 2015 renewal, the multiple Grade One winner produced a rare below-par performance 12 months ago.
The 11-year-old has been competing at the top since winning Cheltenham’s Champion Bumper in 2010 and is one of the most popular horses in training.
A heavy faller in the last two Cheltenham Gold Cups when still in contention, the Ryanair Chase at the National Hunt Festival next March is a possible target if Cue Card continues to defy his advancing years.
Tizzard, a Dorset farmer-cum-trainer, blamed himself for last year’s Wetherby reverse because the horse was not fit enough. However, his son Joe, an ex-jockey, schooled the warrior this week.
“He jumped a couple of hurdles and four fences – just ticking the boxes, really,” said Tizzard senior.
“Out of respect for the horse, we’ve got to make sure we’re doing our bit and not going there pussy-footing around, thinking, ‘This is Cue Card, he’ll be fine’. When we took him for his racecourse gallop, at one time he’d have been running away for two miles, but this time he was behind the bridle. He still came six lengths away from a 156-rated horse, so he’s just as good as he’s ever been.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies saddles Grand National fourth Blaklion and Bristol De Mai while Yorkshire hopes rest with Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red. A course winner, he was pulled up in the National when jockey Danny Cook’s saddle slipped.