COLIN Tizzard believes Cue Card “deserves” to have the William Hill King George VI Chase on his roll of honour.
The popular chaser will be rising 10 when he lines up at Kempton on Boxing Day and Tizzard was eager to laud his longevity.
Cue Card sprang to prominence as a four-year-old when winning the Cheltenham Bumper at 40-1 and has notched a further four Grade One victories in the five years since.
He was forced to miss last year’s Cheltenham Festival with a trapped epiglottis, but Tizzard feels the corrective surgery he had has enabled him to bounce right back to his best in winning the Charlie Hall and a second Betfair Chase this season
This year will be his fourth attempt at winning the King George, having looked all over the winner in 2013 only to be caught be Silviniaco Conti.
Speaking at a press morning organised by sponsors William Hill, Tizzard said: “Cue Card’s epiglottis was operated on in February. That’s why we missed the Cheltenham Festival.
“When he had it really bad he couldn’t even trot up the gallops.
“We think to a degree he had it the year when two out (in the King George), he had Silviniaco Conti off the bridle and his head came up and maybe it was trapping then.
“It’s saggy old skin and it actually trapped the air pipe. It was like a golf ball was stuck in his throat and he couldn’t breathe.”
Tizzard, assisted by his son, former jockey Joe, moved to new premises recently and he feels the new yard has brought about an upturn in his fortunes.
“He’s come in healthier this year and I think the new barn has a lot to do with it,” explained Tizzard.
“We’re up here in the fresh air in a bug-free area. Now we are up here, some of our horses have improved massively. It’s the same gallops, same feed, same people riding them, the only thing that’s different is being up here and I think that’s a significant factor.
“It’s never an easy race is it? We’re looking forward to it.
“I think we’ve got more strings to our bow this time, we can let the others drag us in to the race.
“Very few horses have won at Haydock as easy as he has and he won with his head in his chest. I just have to make sure he’s fit and well. I would just love to win a King George. He’s been a damn good horse for five years now and he deserves to.
“He’s a classy, brilliant horse and he ought to have that race to his name.”
Cue Card is 9-2 third favourite with the sponsors behind Don Cossack at 5-2 and Vautour at 3-1.
Gold Cup winner Coneygree, meanwhile, can be backed at 7-1 but he needs to be supplemented.
Silvinaco Conti is an 8-1 chance with Alan King’s impressive Hennessy winner Smad Place next in the pecking order at 14-1.
FIVE TO FOLLOW
1, Zauffaly (tonight, 4.40pm Chelmsford City): Only headed near the finish last time and good chance to make it third time lucky under Oisin Murphy.
2, Second Wave (tonight, 5.10pm Chelmsford City): Progressive Godolphin runner for Charlie Appleby whose form was franked when Afjaan bolted up in his next run.
3, Air Of York (tonight, 6.10pm Chelmsford City): Bang in form sprinter who is chasing a four-timer.
4, Samson (tonight, 7.10pm Chelmsford City): Won his only bumper start and should land this very weak maiden.
5, Picket Line (tomorrow, 4.40pm Wolves): Stand out fancy on a tricky evening card.
GARY MOORE: Impossible to nominate anyone else this week after Moore’s seven winners in succession on Friday and Saturday, including Tingle Creek Chase winner Sire De Grugy.
PAUL NICHOLLS: Still having winners but had to endure 21 consecutive losers – five of which were favourites – before Vivaldi Collonges won on Sunday.