Colin Tizzard Pre-Cheltenham Media Day 2017

Another day, another stable and although the injury that has kept Thistlecrack out of the Gold Cup was obviously a body blow, he looked in good heart to me and as Colin said, if you didn’t know he was injured you couldn’t spot it. He will be back and the one thing with this stable is that rushing is never on the agenda, and the horses always but always come first, which I see as a positive.

These days Colin is seen as a training star, and rightly so, but it was Cue Card taking the Cheltenham Bumper in 2010 that really put him on the map with recent years seeing them rise though the ranks to close to the very top of the training tree with better and better horses. Now an eleven-year-old, Cue Card is back again in 2017 looking to win a Gold Cup for the first time after falling last season when in with every chance.

He looked as good as ever at Ascot, bounding clear when asked to win his race and putting daylight between himself and admittedly outclassed pursuers in a race that was deliberately over a shorter trip to force him to brush up on his jumping at speed.  Colin told us all “He won so strongly at Ascot on Saturday and looks as well as he has ever been. It was amazing the reception he got at Ascot and he jumped as well as he has ever done. He sauntered home and it was fantastic to see. I am sure he stays the Gold Cup trip – he has got it all. I am so proud of the horse – this morning he was loving being out on the gallops and it was as though he was doing it for the first season”. He does obviously have stable mate Native River to beat, who will without a doubt go well, and although his trainer point blank refused to choose between the two of them, I will stick my neck out and suggest that he favours Cue Card, though whether that is down to sentiment or form we all have to guess for now.

Interestingly, unbeaten hurdler Finian’s Oscar was the first horse brought out to see, suggesting that at the very least he is held in high regard. Apparently he has the rare attributes of both speed and stamina and although favourite for the Neptune Hurdle, he is still in the Supreme over shorter so do beware, there could yet be a change of plan as Colin seems convinced he has plenty of speed if needed.

Fox Norton is possibly well exposed but he is top class regardless and they are mulling over whether to run him in the Queen Mother Champion Chase reasoning that “…he is a good horse in his own right and if we get a clear run in the next three weeks he will take some beating. Douvan is very good horse but you should not be afraid of one.” He is also in the Ryanair Chase which I got the feeling may well be the favoured option as his trainer seems convinced he will be an even better animal stepped up in trip.

If he doesn’t, the Tizzards feel they have a more than able deputy in expensive French import Alary who has not shown the form on his runs in England that he displayed in his native land. Colin was pretty adamant that although he looked like a solid stayer on his form overseas he will be even better over shorter, and he reported to us quite happily that he worked brilliantly recently and is bang on target for a very serious shot at a Cheltenham prize.

Last on a relatively short list here and Colin seems pretty keen on the chances of Sizing Codelco who is on target for the Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate. His trainer was happy to tell us that he is potentially well handicapped having finished so close to the classy Top Notch in December at Ascot, and with the Alan Potts owned squad kept back for Cheltenham, it will come as no surprise if this or one of the others score in a Festival handicap at a decent price.

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