Colin Tizzard Stable Tour February 2016

Thistlecrack Cue Card Tizzard myracing

Three stables in four days (with a jaunt to Newmarket in between) has meant for a busy week but the long drive to Colin Tizzard’s Dorset yard was certainly interesting, informative, and reminds us why we love this sport so much.

Thanks to the positive feedback for the style of the Paul Nicholls visit we will stick with that and go through those that seem worthy of a mention based on comments and body language – though to be fair, Colin and son Joe did parade every horse they have entered for Cheltenham, likely runners or not!

Cue Card – We might as well start at the top, and we have to say the now ten year old looked an absolute picture in the morning sunshine. We all used to question his stamina over three mile, let alone the extra quarter and uphill finish he faces at Cheltenham, but after a breathing operation those questions now appear answered, in our view as well as his trainers. Colin told us:

“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”

“Last year, about now – 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. (After his operation) He came back in this season, 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. It took all of Kempton’s three miles for him to get there….”

The point here is that since a breathing operation he gets three miles and more, and as his trainer thinks he is a stone better at Cheltenham than he is at Kempton, we can certainly see why they seem more than a little keen on his chances of winning the big one. With it he would also win the £1,000,000 bonus that goes to any horse winning the big treble of Betfair Chase, King George and Gold Cup, with just the last leg to go!

Our Gold Cup betting tips are here and Cue Card features highly in them, so all Tizzard’s statements were positive in our view.

Thistlecrack – Clearly a bit of a late developer, his staying form over hurdles is top notch, and as Colin kindly told us:

“At the moment, when he races, there doesn’t appear to be a bottom to him. He just powers away at the end. He looks better than anything else over three miles. I keep on thinking someone is going to bring back a very good chaser who will be really rampant on the day but they would need to be. Thistlecrack worked beautifully this morning and, as you can see, he looks like a chaser. He may be chasing next season.”

That last line is interesting as he also added that at his age they may go straight to the Gold Cup as a novice a la Coneygree, though he did add that here is plenty of money to be made in staying hurdles as well, so hold on to any ante post thoughts for now.

Theatre Guide – Works at home with Cue Card and was a lot closer to him than normal this morning suggesting he is improving even at the age of nine. A good horse in good form at present and worth keeping on your side. Holds an entry to the BetBright Chase on Saturday as well as to both the Ultima Handicap Chase and  the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at Cheltenham Festival.

West Approach – A half brother to Thistlecrack they clearly like him a lot, and he may well be getting better with age just like his sibling. Entered in the Pertemps Hurdle, his rating suggests he is unlikely to get in to the race but he is improving race on race, and will win more races.

Native River – The fact that they have agreed for top Irish Amateur Derek O’Conor to ride the six year old in the National Hunt Chase suggests they think he has a decent enough chance, as we are quite sure the jockey would have been offered any number of decent rides. He seems likely to wear cheek pieces for the first time on track, and as they wake him up at home expect a better showing than his form suggests.

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