Vet­eran hopes to be on cue in King Ge­orge

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Doughty stayer Cue Card will en­deav­our to show his pre­co­ciously tal­ented novice sta­ble­mate Thistle­crack there’s still life in the old legs in the King Ge­orge VI Chase to­day.

Cue Card has two years and many top class wins un­der his belt over his fel­low Colin Tiz­zard-trained star but Thistle­crack has taken to the larger ob­sta­cles-he had no peers over hur­dles last sea­son-with such Èlan he could even start favourite.

Such is their re­spec­tive rep­u­ta­tions that many have taken fright and only three oth­ers will go to post-the smallest field since 1984 — for the win­ner’s prize of £119,000 (140,000eu­ros, $146,000).

For Cue Card though vic­tory will put him one win away-in the blue riband The Chel­tenham Gold Cup in March next year-for a mil­lion pound bonus hav­ing al­ready won the first of the ‘Triple Crown’ the Bet­fair Lan­cashire Chase ear­lier this term. His hopes of it last sea­son were dashed when hav­ing won the first two legs he came to grief in the Gold Cup.

Tiz­zard, who has been train­ing since 1994 when he set up on the fam­ily farm in the South West of Eng­land, says he is blessed to have two such outstanding horses but the 60-year-old has a soft spot for the old war­rior.

“Cue Card has al­ways been the ap­ple of my eye since he won the Cham­pion Bumper in 2010,” said Tiz­zard.

“He has been strut­ting his stuff in the big races for six years now. “He is still a good horse. No doubt if he ar­rives on his A Game he will take a lot of beat­ing.

“He is just a happy horse.” Thistle­crack for Tiz­zard is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent type of horse and he is not overly com­pli­men­tary about his looks. “He is a great brute and re­sem­bles more a hunter,” said Tiz­zard, whose son for­mer jockey Joe is his as­sis­tant. “How­ever, when we get him to the races and we put a sad­dle on him he looks fantastic.” Chief dan­ger to spoil­ing a Tiz­zard 1-2 should be the two-time win­ner of the race Sil­vini­aco Conti trained by cham­pion trainer Paul Ni­cholls.

He was well-beaten by Cue Card in the Bet­fair but Ni­cholls, whose horses are in fine fet­tle at the mo­ment, be­lieves it was his fault for run­ning him too soon af­ter his pre­vi­ous out­ing.

“I don’t ex­pect him to beat them but he is bet­ter rac­ing right-handed and what­ever peo­ple say you have to stay to be com­pet­i­tive in a King Ge­orge and we know he stays ex­tra well,” said Ni­cholls, who has given his run­ner a spin out hunt­ing to keep him fo­cussed. The other two run­ners are Josses Hill, who tries 3 milles (4800me­tres) for the first time, and Tea For Two who will be rid­den by woman jockey Lizzie Kelly for her step­fa­ther Nick Wil­liams.

Kelly, 23, rode Tea For Two to vic­tory in the Grade One Kauto Star Chase at Kemp­ton last year and de­spite only three win­ners thus­far this sea­son she says they are not with­out hope.

“The race it­self should play into his hands,” said Kelly. “There’s a glim­mer of hope there!” —AFP

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