Colin Tizzard is like everyone else ahead of Monday’s King George at Kempton, the trainer finds it nigh-on impossible to split his pair of Cue Card and Thistlecrack.
Winner of the race 12 months ago at the fourth attempt, Cue Card is the proven top-level staying chaser with no less than seven Grade Ones in his locker.
Despite rising 11-years-old, he looked as good as ever last month as he swatted away former Gold Cup winner Coneygree in winning his third Betfair Chase at Haydock.
With his legion of faithful followers, the ever-popular Cue Card is 5/4 with ComeOn! to win the King George.
Just four rivals stand in his path and chief amongst them is one of the most exciting and talked-about horses in training, Thistlecrack.
Unbeatable in staying hurdles last term, his owners have switched to fences with Cheltenham’s Gold Cup in March firmly in their thoughts.
After three easy wins against limited opposition, Thistlecrack now steps out in the big time at Kempton where the eyes of the racing world are certain to follow his every move.
Tom Scudamore will dictate tactics on Thistlecrack, who can be backed at 5/4 to win the Kempton three-miler.
While many trainers would be loath to see their two brightest starts going head-to-head, Tizzard is happy to have two great chances in the biggest race of the season to date.
“I always say in a race like this if you’ve two runners, you’ve twice as much chance of winning. They’ll probably be first- and second-favourites, so let’s have it,” Tizzard told At The Races.
Tizzard says he will leave the tactics down to Paddy Brennan on Cue Card and Scudamore on board Thistlecrack but he is content that Nicky Henderson’s runner Josses Hill, 12/1 with ComeOn! to win, is likely to ensure there is plenty of pace on.
With his two stars so evenly matched in the betting and everyone apparently having an opinion on the race, Tizzard admits that it is very much a case of tried and tested class against untapped potential.
“In the race, Cue Card probably wouldn’t go on until three of four out, but if Thistlecrack is travelling well there’s no reason for him not to go on. He can be ridden any way we want, it will be down to Tom Scudamore on the day,” he added.
“Cue Card has been there and done it, he’s rated 176, he’s been brilliant since Haydock and Wetherby brought him on a lot.
“We all know what Thistlecrack can do and he hasn’t been extended for a while. We don’t know what’s left in the engine, he hasn’t beaten a horse of Cue Card’s calibre yet, but who’s to say he won’t?”
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