Stable star Cue Card was one of 14 horses Tizzard paraded before 50 media at the yard on East Hill just outside Milborne Port on the Dorset/Somerset border with less than three weeks to go before The Festival at Cheltenham – Tuesday, March 15 to Friday, March 18.
Colin Tizzard commented: “Cue Card’s three wins this season have put paid to all the doubts about his stamina. For the last two years, we have not got to Cheltenham with him.”
“Last year, about now – three weeks before Cheltenham, he could not get up the gallop. One day he was fine, the next day he wasn’t. He had a trapped epiglottis – it was like having a golf ball trapped in his throat.”
“He could only just breathe – he couldn’t even trot up the gallop. Whether it was affecting him to a lesser degree two or three years beforehand, we don’t know. He never made a noise.”
“In desperation last season, we put a tongue-tie on him but that did not make any difference. (After his operation) He came back in this season, looking a million dollars, and from the first time we ran him, he has just been very good.”
“He has been good all season and he is still brilliant now – he looks like a staying chaser. It took all of Kempton’s three miles for him to get there (when winning the Grade One King George VI Chase on Boxing Day) – that is what Paddy Brennan said.”
“People say will he stay at Cheltenham but it took three miles to get past Vautor and if it had been another half-mile that day, I think we would have won it by two or three lengths, if not more. He has never really showed his very best around Kempton.”
“It was outstanding when he won the Champion Bumper (at The Festival in 2010) as a four-year-old. I had an argument with Joe (son) – I said you have got to hold him up and he said I am not doing that. I said he had to. We held the horse up for half the race and then Joe could not hold him after that. Cue Card ran away with the Champion Bumper. He ran away with the Ryanair (Chase in 2013).”
“He doesn’t owe us anything. He is in the peak of his form – beautiful at the moment. He has had a busy week and is going to Kempton on Saturday (to work), he will have a busy week next week and then he will go back to normal training.”
“Let’s hope we can get him there (to Cheltenham on Friday, March 18 for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup). He is absolutely brilliant at the moment and is the horse of a lifetime.”
“He is 10 years old and has been doing training and racing for six years. That for me is the biggest pleasure, he still loves doing it every day. Hamir (Singh) rides him all the time – Hamir rides him because we trust Hamir to ride him the same every day.”
“Cue Card used to be very flamboyant – he would tear off and not quite get home around Sprinter Sacre. But he is a different horse now – completely relaxed and he gets the trip.”
“If I could win the Gold Cup, it would be the pinnacle of training – it would last forever. The money (including the £1-million bonus) is fantastic and a lovely idea for the stable staff, the owners and everybody else. Money goes, doesn’t it – I can pay off part of my mortgage and it will be gone.”
“I think we have got a better chance of winning the Gold Cup than we did approaching the King George. He likes Cheltenham and is brilliant round there. He can come down the hill, have a breather and go again.”
“The Gold Cup is the best race – it may not be the biggest, the Grand National is, but for me it is the best.”
The trainer’s other main hope at The Festival is Thistlecrack, the hot favourite for the Grade One Ryanair World Hurdle on St Patrick’s Thursday, March 17.
Tizzard said: “When he was a young horse we could not work Thistlecrack very well as he would always be a bit stiff behind. But now he is at his peak – he has been absolutely brilliant for the last five runs and he could easily have won at Punchestown when he got stopped and made up eight lengths from the last.”
“At the moment, when he races, there doesn’t appear to be a bottom to him. He just powers away at the end.”
“He looks better than anything else over three miles. I keep on thinking someone is going to bring back a very good chaser who will be really rampant on the day but they would need to be.”
“Thistlecrack worked beautifully this morning and, as you can see, he looks like a chaser. He may be chasing next season.”
Mohaymen has been well backed this week (9/2 from 6/1 with Hills ) for the Kentuckey Derby at Churchhill Downes for May 7th. At Newbury on Saturday Close Touch is worth an e/w bet at 10/1 in the Greatwood Hurdle.
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Kevan Minter – The Colonel.