Cue Card set for Arkle prep

COLIN TIZZARD plans to give Cue Card one more outing before having a tilt at the Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

The high-class hurdler recorded his second victory from four starts over fences with an impressive performance at Newbury on Saturday, beating exciting novices For Non Stop and Walkon comfortably.

The six-year-old has been competing over longer distances so far this season, but Tizzard plans to bring his charge back to two miles for one of the hottest Arkles in recent memory.

“He’s come out of the race absolutely fine and I was delighted with him,” said Tizzard.

“I thought he ran a very similar race to how he ran at Newbury the time before. He got touched off last time and this time he won.

“He’ll be coming back to the minimum trip now and the Arkle looks the race to target with him. They’ll go flat out, so it will be almost like a two-and-a-half-mile race anyway.

“I haven’t a clue where he’ll run next. I’d imagine he’ll just have one more run before Cheltenham and it will be around the end of January, start of February. That will mean he’ll have had five runs over fences before Cheltenham, which should be enough experience for him.”

Tizzard, meanwhile, is targeting Oiseau de Nuit at the 25th Anniversary of the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot following the horse’s fine effort at Kempton.

The Dorset trainer was buoyed by the 10-year-old’s run in the Desert Orchid Chase in which he was third to Finian’s Rainbow after leading at the last where he made a mistake.

“We’ve entered him at Ascot and I think we might just have one more go at them at level weights,” said Tizzard.

“He’s rated in the 150s now so basically he needs to run in the conditions races or carry top-weights in handicaps. His run the other day showed he isn’t very far off (the best two-mile chasers). He was arguably unlucky not to win at Kempton — if he hadn’t have walked through the last, he might have held on. He’ll probably go to Ascot next and that will tell us where we’re going with him.”

Finian’s Rainbow and Wishfull Thinking, who was second at Kempton, are also among the 12 entries for the Grade One contest over two miles and one furlong on January 21.

Paul Nicholls has two strong entries in the exciting novice Al Ferof and Kauto Star’s half-brother Kauto Stone as he seeks a fourth successive win in this race.

Others in the list include last year’s runner-up Somersby and the Nick Williams-trained Gauvain, winner of the Peterborough Chase.

There is one Irish entry in the shape of the Tom Cooper-trained Forpadydeplasterer. The 2009 Arkle Trophy hero was third behind Big Zeb in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

“You would have to be very happy with his last performance, but for making a mistake at the last he would have been bang there. We will definitely consider the Victor Chandler now,” said Cooper.

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