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  1. #21
    Bill Esdaile pays a visit to Kempton hopeful’s stable

    CUE Card, a dual Cheltenham Festival winner and ante-post favourite for next week’s William Hill King George VI Chase, is certainly not alone at Venn Farm.

    The seven-year-old shares his small, picturesque Dorset stables with 67 other racehorses and 235 dairy cows under the watchful eye of father-son trainer-jockey combination Colin and Joe Tizzard.

    Tizzard senior, one of National Hunt racing’s much-loved characters, was reduced to tears live on air at Haydock last month when his beloved Cue Card, with Joe in the saddle, demolished a high-class field in the Betfair Chase.

    Looking back on that magical performance, Colin is even more pleased by the fact that his stable star did not seem to have a hard race. “Joe never used his stick on our fellow,” he says, “and he was straight back in work a couple of days later.”

    If there is one fly in the ointment, it is that the only time Cue Card has finished out of the frame in his last 10 starts was in last year’s King George at Kempton, where he finished a legless fifth behind Long Run. His pilot isn’t concerned, however, and believes the reversal proved to be the making of the horse: “After last year’s Kempton race, he doesn’t ‘pull’ anymore. He was so tired from three out that he now knows he has to save a little bit.”

    Joe, who milks the cows once a week on the farm he now runs, feels that Cue Card is in great form and just wants to keep him right for another week.

    “He was brilliant at Haydock and I still had plenty of petrol left in the tank,” he adds. “He’s in great shape. I’m not one of those people who worry themselves silly over things. I’ll sleep well on Christmas night for certain.”

    If all goes well at Kempton next week, Cue Card will return to Cheltenham next spring. For now, everyone at the yard is focused on Boxing Day, but his trainer already has one eye on March – and one race in particular.

    He added: “It’s everyone’s dream to have a runner in the Gold Cup and I’ll never have a better chance than I do now.”

    - See more at:

  2. #22

  3. #23
    Peter Scu

    I’ll admit that a Cheltenham Gold Cup run on decent ground will make the decision tough but, on any softer surface, I’d would not run Cue Card if he was mine.
    Colin Tizzard’s gelding is a brilliant performer and jumps superbly but he ran out of stamina in the King George when overhauled by Silviniaco Conti approaching the final fence.
    There is no shame in that. Cue Card was a great winner of the Ryanair Chase last season and would be a red-hot favourite to win it again in March.

  4. #24
    Richard Forristal makes case for going shorter not longer

    There is one horse, though, that surely has the class and form to take advantage if Sprinter Sacre were absent or below-par -- Cue Card.


    After Colin Tizzard's star won the Betfair Chase in November, we highlighted an anomaly in the race times, which suggested that the Grade One hadn't -- as it was meant to be -- been run over further than three miles. That theory was borne out in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

    Having gone toe to toe with Silviniaco Conti, Cue Card winged the third-last under a motionless Joe Tizzard, and was nearly three lengths up on Noel Fehily's scrubbed-along mount crossing two-out. Then, on the run to the last, he began treading water, his head coming up as he gasped for air.

    Some have suggested that he gained again on Silviniaco Conti on the run to the line, but he didn't. He was going backwards, and if it looked like he wasn't it was only because the winner idled.

    Racing is all about dreaming the dream. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the ultimate Holy Grail, to the point that it often clouds the better judgment of many otherwise shrewd individuals.

    Last year, Flemenstar had the Lexus Chase field on its knees at the last fence but could only finish third.

    First Lieutenant led up the run-in in that and last week's Lexus, yet failed to see it out either time.

    As is the case with Cue Card, some will try to make excuses and defend the indefensible, but an impartial observer will be less keen to explain away what happens right in front of their eyes.

    Stamina isn't something a horse can acquire, improve or be taught. They have it or they don't, and, as Bobs Worth has showed, it is the most critical ingredient in a Gold Cup horse.

    You can't will a horse to morph into a Gold Cup contender, because there is no hiding place up that pugilistic hill.

    Cue Card just gets three miles, as did Florida Pearl and, maybe most pertinently, One Man -- a sensational dual King George and Hennessy Gold Cup hero that twice walked up the hill in the Gold Cup before reverting to two miles to record a breathtaking Champion Chase victory under Brian Harding.

    Like those two, though, the extra quarter mile uphill in a Gold Cup will be his undoing.

    Little went right for Cue Card under a welter burden on his Haldon Gold Cup return over two-and-a-quarter miles, but he made most of the running to win the same race in facile style last term. On his previous start, he was a clear second to the mighty Sprinter Sacre in the 2012 Arkle Trophy.

    Last year's Ryanair Chase victor is a bold, fluent jumper that very few horses in training could live with over two miles. Of course, Cheltenham's newest championship event over the intermediate trip is the race that might represent Cue Card's best chance of winning at the meeting again.

    However, the chance for real glory is still the preserve of the Festival's two traditional marquee events, and the Tizzards should consider only one as a viable option. The Champion Chase.

  5. #25
    Thought I would dig this one out for those who think he should go down instead of up in trip

  6. #26
    Morning Glory
    Racing Post says Theatre Guide will be given Gold Cup entry and if he runs well in Argento Winn influence Cue Cards targets

    This was in a Tizzards local paper afterwards

    OUTSTAYED. That was the first word uttered by Colin Tizzard to describe Cue Card's defeat in the William Hill King George VI Chase.

    Though the Milborne Port gelding jumped with his usual exuberance under trainer's son Joe throughout the Grade One three-miler he just couldn't shake off Silviniaco Conti who went on to give Ditcheat trainer Paul Nicholls his eighth victory in the Kempton Park Christmas classic.

    Cue Card lost little in defeat especially as the front pair finished well clear of the others with his old adversary Al Ferof third, Betfair runner-up Dynaste a remote fifth and former dual King George hero Long Run easily held when falling at the last.

    The result, however, does put a question mark over Cue Card's participation in the Gold Cup. A Ryanair follow-up comes more into the equation - and with the shock news regarding Sprinter Sacre's irregular heartbeat on Friday the path may even be open to the 2m BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase.

    Colin Tizzard said: "Joe said Cue Card ran up to the form he showed in the Betfair at Haydock. I am just so chuffed with the horse because he was brilliant again today. The rest were miles back but we were outstayed in the end by Silviniaco Conti who has improved this season and was already a really good horse last season.

    "We're still thinking Gold Cup but a second shot at the Ryanair might appeal. We'll sit down and give it some thought but where we go to next I simply don't know."

    Joe Tizzard said: "I was not disappointed by Cue Card's run. Paul's plan was obviously to sit on my tail and then they just outstayed us."

    Read more:

  7. #27
    Tizzard also told RP that he would nt be getting an entry in the Queen Mother.

  8. #28
    Tizzard said: "The ultimate aim for anyone owning a jumper has to be to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and, all things being equal, it's 85 per cent likely that's the way we'll go as things stand."

  9. #29
    Up to 95% now - Joes Blog

    This week, there’s been a lot of talk about Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders and I’m please to confirm that Cue Card is 95% certain to run in the race. Some might question his stamina but he’s had a month easy following the William Hill King George VI Chase and has come back really well and extremely healthy. We’re starting to ‘pick-up’ again and have something to work on. As Dad said, the ultimate aim for anyone owning a jumper is the Gold Cup and as it stands, that’s our goal. We’ve discussed options with Cue Card’s owners and we’re all in agreement because if we won the Ryanair easily by eight lengths or so we might we be thinking ‘what if we went for Gold?’ so to avoid speculation, that’s our aim. Cue Card’s three targets are the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Aintree and the Punchestown Festival, and I’m looking forward to each and every one of them.

  10. #30
    as requested by Donka

    The long-time favourite and eventual runner up Cue Card was beaten, as highlighted, by:

    •Not being able to control the pace of the race, by not being allowed to stop-start the gallop. He was therefore denied a fundamental aspect of his physicality: the need to "fill up" in order to continue racing within his comfort zone;
    •His own peculiar On/Behind bridle ratio. As pointed to specifically, Cue Card either wins comfortably through sheer class or is "swept aside" because, once challenged, it means he is forced to switch behind the bridle where his ability is dramatically minimised. Here he faced an elite opponent able to go his gallop, but also able to race with power behind the bridle, something Cue Card lacks;
    •The ground, but only possibly. As a top class elite horse Cue Card handles any ground, but a good ground King George may just have helped him "yo-yo" his pursuers in a way that he was simply unable to do here, with Silviniaco Conti able to challenge him throughout, even after a mistake six out. But equally there would still have come a point when Cue Card's comfort zone petrol hit Empty, and the outcome of that would have been the same, perhaps just closer to the finishing line.
    •And, of course, a better staying three mile chaser with a more suitable physicality.

    Some of the general discussion after the race mentioned how it was "strange" that Cue Card should "just apparently empty" between two out and the last. But it is only "strange" if there is a failure to identify beforehand the specific characteristics a top class horse is likely to exhibit. In the Preview the key question was posed as:

    This leads us in a way to Cue Card's conundrum. What is the ratio of the amount of energy and class he expends on the bridle (racing comfortably) to that expended when challenged?

    It received a quite specific answer during the race. His On/Behind bridle ratio was illuminated "down the stretch". Joe Tizzard said:

    "I think Paul [Nicholls] and Noel [Fehily] had a good game-plan," he commented. "They sat close, virtually touching me all the way, so I was never able, at any stage, to get in front and fill him up. I was starting to come under a bit of pressure [going to the second-last fence], but I thought I had enough to keep me going. But generally it was a good run and the best horse on the day won."

    Here Tizzard is making specific reference to the tactics employed in Cue Card's Ryanair Chase and Betfair Chase victories, repeatedly slowing the pace in front and filling up with oxygen then going on again. He highlights the point at which Cue Card was required to switch behind the bridle, coming under pressure towards the second last, so after that jump he would need to switch fully and start to race and grind and use different qualities. But his energy distribution at this stage was shot through. The vast majority of Cue Card's racing is done within his own comfort zone and at a level few can cope with. But at elite level one or two horses (other than Sprinter Sacre) are able to gallop with him and in staying races those horses have a different On/Behind bridle ratio - they can race effectively and with power off the bridle, displaying a more even curve of energy distribution, and Silviniaco Conti was one of those horses.

    Notably, the jockey as well as opinion in general saw the problem of defeat as a matter of ground, or of ground and track, or of ground, track and tactics. All these are almost useless as indicators of race performance in this case. What was important was Cue Card's physicality. It was a terrific run, for sure; and the best staying horse won, for sure; but performance analysis suggests a Gold Cup run would be suicide. He is probably near unbeatable under the conditions of a Ryanair Chase, however.

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