Cheltenham Festival 2016: Cue Card ‘brilliant now’ says trainer Colin Tizzard

Cue Card

Cue Card and Paddy Brennan winning The Betfair Chase Haydock. Pic: Dan (Courtesy of GBR).

By Simon Jackson.

Colin Tizzard has described Cue Card as the ‘horse of a lifetime’ as he prepares his stable star for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup on the last day of the Festival on Friday.

Cue Card continued his resurgence this season with a tenacious victory in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

The win leaves him unbeaten in his latest campaign after successes in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October and the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock the next month.

The Betfair and King George are the first two legs of the £1million Chase Triple Crown which culminates with the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.  And Tizzard says that success in the Gold Cup is something that would stay with him forever.

“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,” Tizzard said.

“Last year, 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. He came back in this season [after his operation] 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.

“People say will he stay at Cheltenham but it took three miles to get past Vautour 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 (Tizzard’s jockey 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. Let’s hope we can get him there [to the Gold Cup]. He is absolutely brilliant at the moment and is the horse of a lifetime.”

Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.