hey Big Spender could provide a major lift to the Tizzard father and son team ahead of stable star Cue Card’s crack at next week’s King George VI Chase at Kempton.
He heads the five-runner field for today’s rearranged Levy Board Peterborough Chase at Exeter – provided the West country track passes an early morning inspection. More heavy rain is forecast.
The prestigious Grade Two contest should have been run at Huntingdon last week, until the frost intervened, but Hey Big Spender has the stamina to overcome a 341-day lay-off – the mudlark has not run since landing Warwick’s gruelling Betfred Classic Chase in January.
Trained by Colin Tizzard, and ridden by his son Joe, Hey Big Spender should pose the greatest challenge to the classy Wishfull Thinking who is returning to form after a disappointing season.
The Philip Hobbs-trained horse was victorious at Cheltenham last month, though Arkle hero Sprinter Sacre was a notable non-runner and will once again be ridden by Richard Johnson, who notched up an impressive hat-trick at Ludlow yesterday. Yet Tizzard senior is confident.
“When Hey Big Spender was running in novice hurdles, once we switched him from good to soft to heavy ground he was a stone better horse,” he said. “Since he went over fences we haven’t had many chances to run him in proper heavy ground yet. He obviously stays well – I’m sure he’d stay four miles – but he has enough pace to lay up with them over two-and-a-half on heavy, so we’ll see what happens.
“He had the setback earlier in the year but he’s been back in since September 1, his work has been good and he’s ready to start back.”
n Trainer Pam Sly is looking forward to seeing last year’s runner-up Helpston have a second crack at the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
The eight-year-old was only narrowly beaten by the ill-fated According To Pete in the prestigious Grade Three event 12 months ago.
Pulled up on his seasonal reappearance at Fakenham in October, he was in the process of running a much better race when falling at Doncaster last weekend.
Sly said: “The Rowland Meyrick is definitely a race I am looking at for Helpston. He was travelling well at Doncaster last time when he fell.”
n The Jockey Club has announced its racecourse arm will offer more than £40m in prize-money in 2013 – an increase of £5m.
The group are scheduled to stage 361 fixtures next year, with the Jockey Club responsible for a total of 15 British racecourses including Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom and Newmarket. Market Rasen and Carlisle come under its auspices in this region.
Chief executive Simon Bazalgette said: “Once again we are putting in more than 60 per cent of our available profits to prize-money and this contribution exceeds the amount we receive through media race fees.”