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HORSE RACING: Cue Card is primed for George glory
ECHOSPORT’S racing correspondent DAVID LEE-PRIEST was in attendance at Cheltenham over the weekend as the luminaries of national hunt gathered for the International Meeting.
Despite saddling four runners with strong chances over the two days, local trainer Colin Tizzard might have been forgiven for having his eyes fixed decidedly on boxing day’s King George VI Chase in which his stable star, Cue Card, is a warm favourite (5/2 with sponsors William Hill).
The Kempton contest is one of jump racing’s crown jewels and seems to bear an affinity for chasers who captivate the sporting public’s imagination.
While Tizzard’s seven-year-old is far from assuming the mantle of former multiple winners Desert Orchid, Best Mate, and Kauto Star, his stock is rapidly rising, perhaps because he is cut from the same cloth; game, gutsy, and given to some extravagant clearances.
With the sun setting on a pantheon of equine demigods over the past two seasons – Kauto Star, Frankel, and Denman in their ranks – racing needs a new leading light who transcends the sport, and the Dorset-trained Cue Card may prove ideal for the part.
He announced himself three years ago at the Cheltenham Festival with a raucous victory in the Champion Bumper, the promise of which was only realised at the climax of last season when he claimed another of the meeting’s blue riband events in the Ryanair Chase, before pressing the otherworldly, untouchable Sprinter Sacre at Aintree.
He took another leap forward at the start of the current se-ason, bringing an unexpected tear to his trainer’s cheek on national television after do-minating a strong field with some panache in the Bet-fair Chase at Haydock last month.
Might this prove a springboard for even greater feats?
The Echo checked in with Cue Card’s affable pilot, stable jockey Joe Tizzard, pictured: “He’s going ever so well at home, had a quiet week after (the Betfair Chase win at) Haydock, and working extremely well since.
“I am up on him around once a week at the moment, schooled him well at the weekend and will do quite a bit more leading up to the race.”
When asked about the season to date and whether he had taken on more of the stable’s training duties from his father, Joe went on to add: “We haven’t had the fastest of starts. Good horses running very well though and the rest taking their time to come to hand in the mild weather, certainly no complaints here.
“In terms of the yard and who does what, it’s a real family affair with us.
“We all chip in and play our part.”
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