Cue takes aim at Newbury pot

COLIN Tizzard is confident Cue Card will show everyone what he is made of in this afternoon’s Betfred Goals Galore Novices’ Chase at Newbury.

The high-class hurdler made a fine start to his career over fences at Chepstow, but then unseated jockey Joe Tizzard in a race won by Grands Crus at Cheltenham.

He did little wrong on his latest visit to Newbury, when going down by a short head to Bobs Worth and his trainer believes his star turn should not be written off just yet.

“It’s another good race, but I just thought he ran a storming race round Newbury last time and the track suits him well,” said Tizzard.

“This is Cue Card – we’ve always aimed him high and we’ll continue to do the same.

“I actually sat on him myself earlier this week for the first time this year and he really is a much bigger and stronger horse than he was last season.

“One or two people have knocked him, but he hasn’t done anything wrong over fences, in my opinion.

“He won at Chepstow and then made a mistake and unseated at Cheltenham.

“He did nothing wrong at Newbury last time giving weight to Bobs Worth and there are so many good novice chasers around at the moment, they all get beat some time.”

Cue Card’s defeats have seen him drift markedly in the ante-post betting for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March, but Tizzard sees the race as the ideal target for his charge.

“We’re coming back in trip all the time and while nothing is definite, I’d say a fast-run Arkle is favourite at the moment,” added the Dorset handler.

“We’ll have the option of the Jewson over two and a half miles as well if we want go that way, but they go flat out in the Arkle and it turns into a bit of a stamina test, which would suit our horse well.”

Also lining up in the five-runner contest is the Nick Williams-trained For Non Stop, last seen finishing a neck second to leading Arkle contender Al Ferof at Sandown.

While that is arguably the best chase form on offer in this two-mile-two-furlong event, Williams does not see his charge as the one to beat.

“I certainly wouldn’t say I’m bullish going into the race,” said the Devon handler.

“On the balance of the form, it would be fair to say that both Cue Card and Walkon have achieved more than our horse at this stage. I think we go into the race as an underdog.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how well our horse ran at Sandown. I only really stuck him in that race as it cut up and it was reopened.

“He doesn’t want the ground too soft. I think it’s good to soft on the chase track at the moment and I certainly hope it doesn’t get any softer than that.”

The Alan King-trained Walkon has had his share of injury setbacks, but his impressive chasing debut victory at Exeter suggested his ability remains intact.

“I was thrilled with the way he won his chasing debut at Exeter, and he has done nothing but please me since,” the Barbury Castle trainer told his website, www.alankingracing.co.uk.

“Obviously, his 7lb penalty makes it tougher, but he has had two strong pieces of work on the grass recently and three schooling sessions.

“We are all looking forward to seeing him take this next step on the road which will hopefully lead to Cheltenham in March.”

Completing the field is Nicky Henderson’s Minella Class, second to Peddlers Cross on his debut at Bangor, and French recruit Criqtonic, who will be making his first start for Paul Nicholls.

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