Cue Card targetting fourth Betfair Chase


Joe Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father Colin, has revealed that Cue Card is being targeted at a fourth Grade 1 Betfair Chase victory on Saturday, November 25 at Haydock Park.

The 11-year-old chaser, trained on the Dorset/Somerset border, has already been successful in the £200,000 chase in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Cue Card was one of 11 entries made yesterday for the 13th running of the Betfair Chase and Betfair bet 5/4 Sizing John, 2/1 Bristol De Mai, 6/1 Cue Card, 10/1 Outlander, 10/1 Might Bite, 12/1 Tea For Two, 20/1 More of That, 25/1 Traffic Fluide, 25/1 Yala Enki, 33/1 Double Treasure and 50/1 Shantou Flyer.

Speaking at a press conference at Exeter Racecourse, Joe Tizzard said: “Cue Card has come out of Wetherby fine.

“I was at Ascot on Saturday and none of us connected with him wanted to see him hit the deck for a third time.

“Even if he has a hard race or a fall, he is the first horse you see when you drive into our yard. He had his ears pricked over the door, he trotted out fine, had a canter yesterday and another this morning.

“Obviously, he will be schooled again before going to Haydock, but everything is right at the moment.

“We are proud of the schooling facilities we have got and we like to teach them right from the start.

“He has run 31 times over fences and fallen three times when the races are starting to really take shape. He has been caught out three times for whatever reason and I am not sure why.

“He has guessed at the fences on all three occasions – he hasn’t put down and hit the top. He has had a bit of doubt and there is no way of schooling for that scenario.

“He had warmed into the Wetherby race really well and was going as good as anything on Saturday (when he fell).

“He would have won or finished very close. If he had done so, you would be seriously bullish about Cue Card winning the Betfair Chase for a fourth time at Haydock Park where the track suits him particularly well.

“We have seen Cue Card do some serious demolition jobs there – as long as the fall does not have any ill effects on him, he should run a huge race again.

“He bounced back at Aintree after the first Gold Cup fall and bounced back there again after the second Gold Cup fall even though he was beaten.

“We don’t need to make Cue Card into a bad jumper – he has been very solid throughout his career and it has just been very unfortunate that he has had these falls in the last couple of seasons.

“I have galloped and schooled Cue Card in the last three weeks – now he races a lot easier and schooling-wise, I could not fault him on the Tuesday before Wetherby – he was mustard. I don’t think we need to make a big thing about these falls.

“All three of the falls have been with Paddy (Brennan), but Cue Card has also jumped beautifully for Paddy. The jockey makes a split-second decision at the time.

“If 11-year-old Cue Card can beat Sizing John (the 2017 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner) in the Betfair Chase, then there will only be one horse who can win the £1-million bonus (The Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown).

“When he fell in the Gold Cup (and lost out on the £1-million bonus in 2016) that was not the first thing in our thoughts, rather that he got up and was fine.

“At this point of Cue Card’s career, the plan is take every step as it comes. Haydock Park for the Betfair Chase is his next step and if he goes and wins there, he will go for Kempton (the G1 32Red King George VI Chase) and then we will reassess. He will tell us where he is and, if he shows us enough at home, he will have a crack at the third race (the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup) for the bonus.

“Last season we ran Cue Card at Ascot as well because we felt it was too long between the King George and the Gold Cup, plus he wasn’t going for the bonus. When he was going for the bonus, those three big races slotted in perfectly.”

Trainer Paul Nicholls, who has won the Betfair Chase six times – four times with Kauto Star and twice with Silviniaco Conti, looked back on those successes.

He recalled: “Sadly, I have not got an entry in the Betfair Chase this year. I was incredibly lucky to have Kauto Star who won the Betfair Chase four times and then Silviniaco Conti.

“It is a fantastic race and to win the £1-million bonus was just awesome. Kauto Star is the only horse to have won the bonus (in the 2006/07 season) – to win the Betfair Chase, the King George and the Gold Cup takes some doing.

“It just shows the bonus can be won with the right horse and I suppose Sizing John will be going for it this season.

“He has not had a prep run and therefore needs to win first time out – you have got to be on the top of your game in all three of those races which are all different. It will be no easy feat for Sizing John to win the bonus and if it is testing ground in two weeks’ time, I can see Bristol De Mai making a go of it in the Betfair Chase.”

Betfair spokesman Barry Orr commented today: “Following his battling win in the Charlie Hall Chase, Bristol De Mai has been all the rage for the Betfair Chase and, with two wins from two runs at Haydock, the betting momentum seems to be with him. He is now 2/1 from 5/1.

“Having said that, the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Sizing John, still heads the market at 5/4, while Cue Card, who would emulate the great Kauto Star with four wins should he land the prize, has been attracting recent support and is 6/1 from 7/1.”


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