JOE Tizzard feels there is more improvement to come from Cue Card when the horse bids to erase the memory of last year’s agonising defeat in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Cue Card, trained by his father Colin, faded quite dramatically just before the final fence in the hands of Tizzard junior and was collared by Silviniaco Conti.
He only returned to action last month and has not fired on all cylinders in finishing fourth in both the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter and Haydock’s Betfair Chase.
But Tizzard junior, who is now his father’s assistant after retiring from the saddle, has not lost faith in their stable star.
“He’s fine at home. He had a good blow after the race at Haydock. Nothing’s come out of it. Physically he’s absolutely A1,” he said.
“I think he could possibly be a better horse another day because although he had a race at Exeter, he did blow hard after Haydock and there’s a chance he might improve a little bit more. He’s in good nick and it’s all guns blazing for the King George.”
Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh will leave it as late as possible before making a decision on his Boxing Day destination.
Two of Willie Mullins’ stable stars, Champagne Fever and Faugheen, are due to be in action at Kempton while Vautour is on target to run at Leopardstown on the same afternoon.
As all three are owned by Rich and Susannah Ricci, Walsh does not need to make an early call. “It looks like Faugheen will be on the bus to Kempton for the Christmas Hurdle on December 26 to join Champagne Fever’s King George VI Chase assault,” he said.
Chase prospect Un Ace is likely to bypass Doncaster tomorrow in favour of Cheltenham’s Ryman Stationary Novices’ Chase 24 hours later.
A faller on his chasing debut at Cheltenham in October, he subsequently won his next two outings in the style of a classy novice.
Kim Bailey is keen to get experience into the six-year-old, but it could mean a clash with the likes of Champagne West and Virak.
“It’s more likely that he’ll go to Cheltenham,” said Bailey. “The problem with Doncaster is he’d have to carry a double penalty and the prize money is nothing like what’s on offer at Cheltenham.”
John Quinn’s mare Cockney Sparrow, the winner of the Scottish Champion Hurdle, has died of colic at the age of five.
The horse was a particular favourite of the crestfallen Malton trainer – Cockney Sparrow also won at Aintree on Grand National day in 2013 before winning a Listed race at Wetherby. “She was the best mare I’ve trained,” lamented Quinn.
James Reveley was the jockey to follow at a wind-swept Hexham yesterday – the Saltburn rider completed a treble that came courtesy of Sharney Sike, Aniknam and Amethyst Rose.