Trainer Colin Tizzard and owner Jean Bishop opted for a change of rider after Brennan and Cue Card parted company at the fifth fence from home in Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase earlier this month.
The third time in 18 months that the partnership had come to grief, the veteran Cue Card will draw level with Kauto Star’s record wins if he triumphs in Haydock’s three mile test on Saturday.
Though reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John is an absentee due to the heavy going, Charlie Hall winner Bristol De Mai is the horse to beat – the proven mudlark thrives at Haydock – Cobden is taking the occasion, and scrutiny, in his stride.
“I’ve spoken to Paddy. He’s been very good. He said if I want any help or whatever then to come to him and ask for any, so Paddy’s been A1 really and a real professional about the job,” said the 19-year-old.
Cobden, who rode a double at Wincanton yesterday, is encouraged by the horse’s wellbeing in spite of some racing observers urging Tizzard to retire the multiple Grade One winner who came to prominence when winning Cheltenham’s Champion Bumper in 2010.
“I’ve ridden him out a couple of times,” he said. “I’ve schooled him over some fences and he jumped really well and I rode him in a little racecourse canter around Wincanton and he felt really good so I’m looking forward to riding him.
“He seems very well. He was keen to get on with it around Wincanton and the lad who looks after him and rides him out every day says he’s in good form.”
Asked if he is feeling any pressure, he replied: “No, no. I haven’t really thought about it too much.”
On the prospect of matching Kauto Star’s record, he went on: “It would be pretty good, wouldn’t it?! It’s a shame I couldn’t ride him in his other three wins but obviously it’s a fantastic achievement for the horse and he’d go down as a real champion wouldn’t he?
“I’m looking forward to it”