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Cue Card propels Tizzards to new high
COLIN Tizzard delivered a celebrated 2013 festival double yesterday as Cue Card scorched around Prestbury Park to claim the Ryanair Chase with some aplomb.
The stable’s flagship travelled best throughout the middle-distance championship race and repelled challenges from Champion Court and Irish 2/1 favourite First Lieutenant to score by nine lengths.
His festival record now makes impressive reading with four runs, two wins, and one place.
Two months in advance of his nuptials, Joe Tizzard’s partnership with Cue Card proved a true marriage of horse and rider; he let the exuberant chaser take a couple of fences in a long stride and settled him well after a characteristic awkward leap early on before plumbing the depths of his stamina up the famous hill.
Entering the winners’ enclosure through a tunnel of noise, Tizzard junior punched the air to a roar normally saved for Gold Cup winners.
It was clear from the delight written onto the faces of trainer and jockey, father and son, how much this talismanic horse means to the entire yard and how much hard work went into yesterday.
Cue Card is a symbol of the stable’s ascendancy and this year’s festival almost certainly represents a new peak for the Sherborne-based outfit that continues to combine dairy farming with equine activities.
Post-race, Tizzard senior was gushing praise for his star turn, “I think he’s actually improved this season” and, perhaps buoyed by the moment, speculated about a duel with superstar elect Sprinter Sacre, “our big worry over the last fortnight was whether to take on that big, black horse and thank god we didn’t, but we’ll have to one day!”
Two races later, Hunt Ball was unable to produce his very best under top weight in the ultra-competitive Byrne Group Plate (4.00pm), staying on well to claim fourth place for owner Anthony Knott and trainer Keiran Burke.
It is likely he’ll now travel to Aintree in three weeks’ time for another tilt at the Grade One Betfair Bowl where he may encounter his preferred better ground.
There could be more to celebrate today as Colin Tizzard saddles stalwart Oiseau De Nuit (25/1) for another crack at the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual he won in such game style in 2011.
Unfortunate to be brought down along the back of the course when going well in the same race last year, this genuine two-miler clearly has an affinity for the track.
Joe Tizzard told Echosport: “He is in very good heart at home and is only 5lb higher than when he won (in 2011). We are hoping the ground will continue to dry out, and he loves these Cheltenham fences.”
Elsewhere on the final festival card of 2013, Richard Barber sends out Chapoturgeon (4/1) with a live second-favourite’s chance in the CGA Foxhunter Chase.
The nine-year-old has already demonstrated his mettle in this unique event, falling short by only one length last year under the trainer’s grandson Jack Barber.