COLIN Tizzard is in bullish mood ahead of Cue Card’s bid for back-to-back victories in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
Victory last year was followed by three Grade One successes – and a heavy fall when the 10-year-old was vying for the lead in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
However, the trainer’s son Joe, a retired jockey, has been riding Cue Card at work and couldn’t be happier with the favourite’s wellbeing.
“He’s in absolutely brilliant form,” said the Dorset handler. “He had a racecourse gallop last week and Joe rode him last Saturday morning in a piece of work and he was electric. Joe’s words were, ‘He’s a class above the rest’, so we’ll see.
“I honestly don’t think we’ve ever had him in better form than he is now. That is a statement considering he’s 10, but we really couldn’t be happier with him.”
Victory for Cue Card would top off the perfect week for the Tizzard team following Thistlecrack’s foot-perfect chasing debut at Chepstow on Tuesday.
The likelihood of the stable companions locking horns at some stage this season now appears increasingly likely.
“Cue Card is close to my heart as I won some brilliant races on him, but we haven’t got to the bottom of Thistlecrack yet, and he could be anything over a fence,” said Tizzard junior.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Menorah, victorious in 2014, will relish conditions while course winner Blaklion, who triumphed in last season’s RSA Chase at Cheltenham, is a very intriguing contender for Nigel Twiston-Davies and young jockey Ryan Hatch.
Local hopes rest with the Ray Scholey-owned course winner Wakanda who has plenty to prove after he was pulled up on his final two starts of last season at Cheltenham and Aintree.
Wakanda’s trainer Sue Smith said: “He has summered really well and seems in very good form. It is obviously a very good race but Wetherby is his local track and the owner is keen to have a crack at it.
“The ground was extremely heavy when he ran at Cheltenham and I think both that race and Aintree came on the back of quite a long season. He doesn’t handle very heavy ground because he is only a tiny horse.”