Tizzards ready to play ace Card
Colin Tizzard remains upbeat about the prospects of William Hill King George VI favourite Cue Card at Kempton next week - despite revealing that some of his string have been under the weather.
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Last season's Ryanair Chase hero may have disappointed in the Christmas showpiece 12 months ago, but he staked a strong claim to putting the record straight when making all the running to win the Betfair Chase at Haydock, progressing from his seasonal reappearance which saw him finish third in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.
Cue Card is the 5/2 market leader with the sponsors, and Tizzard enthused about his horse's prospects at a William Hill-organised media day on the gallops at his Dorset yard, being of the view the flat Sunbury circuit is to his advantage.
"I would think the others have got to improve to beat him, but our horse has to be on his game," he said.
"I don't think he had a hard race at Haydock, but any of the first three or four (in the betting) could win. Three miles round Kempton will play to his strengths."
But Tizzard did reference the form of his string as he told Racing UK: "We have had a bug about and there's no two ways about it that we will have a few more.
"It doesn't last long in the good ones - they have it for two or three days and get over it. The bad ones it seems to stay with them for a few weeks.
"Of the 70 horses we have got we've only got two coughing right now so it is not that bad.
"He may have had it at Devon (Exeter). I'm not saying that he did, but you never know."
Cue Card has been ridden in all his 19 starts by the trainer's son, Joe, and he reckons Al Ferof represents the chief threat.
"Al Ferof is the one I fear the most. His form in the past is very good and he'd be better at Kempton than Silviniaco Conti (third at Haydock)," said Tizzard jnr.
Dynaste, the 7/2 second-favourite with Sky Bet, was beaten four and a half lengths by Cue Card at Haydock last month, but the David Pipe-trained grey has a course and distance success to his credit in the Feltham Chase last Boxing Day.
Pipe also opened up his Nicholashayne yard for the second part of the media day and hopes Dynaste's course form will help his cause.
"Dynaste has come out of Haydock well, he's bouncing on the gallops and it will be a fascinating race," he said.
"Cue Card is the one they all have to beat, but hopefully we can find a bit more out of our boy. The three miles round Kempton may be a bit better for us than round Haydock."
The Paul Nicholls-trained Al Ferof is third in the ante-post betting behind Cue Card and Dynaste at 9-2 following his successful comeback in the 1965 Amlin Chase at Ascot after 12 months on the sidelines.
His owner John Hales saw his colours carried to victory in this race twice by One Man in the mid 1990s and is looking forward to Al Ferof doing himself justice.
"French Opera (beaten eight lengths in second) did the Ascot form no harm at all at the weekend. I said at the time I thought it was a good run, even though there were only two runners," he said.
"He's now ready for the King George and I'm hoping for a good run."