Tizzard takes gallops cue to square up to Sprinter

 

The gauntlet that was left lying on the ground at Cheltenham is to be picked up at Aintree.

Probably wisely, Cue Card sidestepped a meeting with two-mile king Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase two weeks ago, instead winning the longer Ryanair Chase the following afternoon. But yesterday Cue Card’s trainer, Colin Tizzard, committed his stable star to the John Smith’s Melling Chase on Friday week, setting up an intriguing encounter between two Festival champions.

Sprinter Sacre is unbeaten in eight starts over fences and the highest-rated jumper in training. On the two occasions he and Cue Card have met – most recently as novice chasers in last year’s Arkle Trophy – he was the master. But next week he will step beyond his proven distance for the first time and into his rival’s comfort zone.

It is a move that has been successful in the past; the double was completed by his own Nicky Henderson stablemate Finian’s Rainbow 12 months ago and by another exceptional two-miler, Moscow Flyer, in 2005. But five years ago Master Minded, as impressive as Sprinter Sacre at Cheltenham, found the two and a half miles of the Aintree Grade One contest beyond him.

Tizzard is under no illusions about the task facing Cue Card, who romped home by seven in the Ryanair, but relishes the chance for revenge. “We are entitled to think we have the best two-and-a-half-miler after his last two performances,” the trainer said, “but I have no reason to doubt that Sprinter Sacre will get the trip. We got within seven lengths of him in the Arkle, but I feel we have a much better horse this year. Sprinter Sacre hasn’t had a hard race since then and we don’t know if he is better because he hasn’t been fully tested.”

Cue Card’s place in the Melling Chase field was decided after a sparkling display on Tizzard’s gallops yesterday. “He did some fast work and he couldn’t be in better form,” the trainer said. “I’d say Cheltenham was one of his best performances. He had that one blip in the King George, but I don’t think he was quite on song that day.”

One of Ireland’s best, Flemenstar, is also likely to be in the mix next week. “It’s shaping to be a very, very good race if all three turn up,” added Tizzard. “We’ve avoided Sprinter Sacre once this year, but this is our trip.”

One who will not be at Aintree is Beshabar, who had been a lively 25-1 shot for the Grand National. The Tim Vaughan-trained gelding, winner of the Scottish National two years ago, has sustained a minor foreleg injury.

Sir Peter O’Sullevan is undergoing tests in a London hospital after suffering a mild stroke. The former BBC commentator turned 95 this month.

Chris McGrath’s Nap

Catflap (3.00 Lingfield) Yet to win but still not fully exposed and there was encouragement from her latest effort, when she came home with purpose from off the pace over too sharp a five furlongs.

Next Best

Upswing (3.55 Wetherby) Though his handicap debut resulted in only a narrow victory, it was an easy one and he should have even more to offer over today’s longer trip.

One To Watch

Yul Finegold (George Baker) made an encouraging seasonal debut on bad ground at Doncaster last Friday and a profitable handicap career looks likely in the hands of his capable trainer.

Where The Money’s Going

Bennys Mist, an easy winner at Newbury five days ago and due to have his first test over Aintree’s unique fences in next week’s Topham Chase, was cut to 16-1 from 20s by Paddy Power after a lumpy bet yesterday morning.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee