Cue Card: connections no closer to making a decision on CheltenhamPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Tizzard signals late Cue Card race decision
A DECISION on whether Ryanair Chase favourite Cue Card contests that race or the sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase could be made by the end of the month following a meeting between trainer Colin Tizzard and owner Bob Bishop.
The 2010 Champion Bumper winner justified 15-8 favouritism to win the Betfair Ascot Chase over 2m 5½f on Saturday which cemented his position at the head of the Ryanair betting.
He is 7-2 for that and as big as 14-1 for the Champion Chase.
Connections are split between tackling the longer 2m 5f trip of the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival or facing red-hot Champion Chase favourite Sprinter Sacre over 2m.
Tizzard said on Sunday: "We're still no closer to making a decision, we don't need to be yet. His owners Bob and Jean Bishop are coming down to stay for a night the week after next and we might decide then."
Cue Card's task at Ascot was made easier when King George runner-up Captain Chris made a mistake at the penultimate fence.
Colin Tizzard: trains Cue CardPICTURE: Martin Lynch
"Things would certainly have been a lot tougher for Cue Card had Captain Chris not blundered away his chance at the penultimate fence in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase, but you would be hard pressed to say he would definitely have been beaten and, in terms of this season's form, he deserves his prominent position in the Ryanair betting," said Racing Post Ratings expert Steve Mason.
Third Intention, Cue Card's stablemate, will wear a sheepskin noseband at Cheltenham after he threw away seemingly certain success in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase last time.
"His head definitely came up at Sandown," added Tizzard. "I think we need to delay his challenge until maybe halfway up the run in and we'll also put a big sheepskin noseband on him. I would have thought the Jewson would be the obvious race."
Sprinter Sacre's jockey Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh are 5-4 joint-favourites to be leading jockey at the Festival, although Walsh is 7-4 with bet365.
Nicky Henderson is odds-on in the trainers' betting, followed by Willie Mullins at 15-8 and Paul Nicholls, 10-1 with William Hill.