Cue Card: 5-2 favourite with William Hill for Saturday's Betfair Ascot ChasePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Ascot run will determine Cue Card's Festival target
COLIN Tizzard will hopefully know by 4pm on Saturday which Cheltenham Festival race stable star Cue Card will be heading for, the trainer indicated on Monday.
This season's Haldon Gold Cup winner, whose stamina gave out in the closing stages of the King George VI Chase on his most recent start, is among 11 entries for the Betfair Ascot Chase, for which he was installed 5-2 favourite by William Hill.
Cue Card's festival options are the Ryanair Chase and the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase, for which the market leader is jump racing's highest-rated horse, Sprinter Sacre.
Cue Card is general 5-1 second favourite behind Flemenstar - who has the same two options at Cheltenham - for the Ryanair, while his odds for the Champion Chase vary much more wildly, from 12-1 to 25-1.
"The Ascot Chase is the ideal race and will tell us which way to go," said Tizzard. "He's in good nick and I'm very happy with him.
"Sprinter Sacre is the best I've seen over two miles over fences. Cue Card is the only horse that has got to his tail over fences, between the second-last and last in the Arkle, but Sprinter Sacre took off again. In terms of Cheltenham we're not leaning either way. Saturday will tell us."
While Hills favour Cue Card, other firms betting on the £150,000 race at Ascot favour King George runner-up Captain Chris, who finished around 20 lengths in front of Cue Card at Kempton.
In what could be a fascinating clash, last season's Champion Chase hero Finian's Rainbow is a best-priced 4-1 with Coral.
Ascot clerk of the course Chris Stickels reported on Monday: "Further rain is forecast on Wednesday and Thursday, with occasional showers on Friday and Saturday. It's going to be pretty testing but at this stage I'm very positive about the meeting."
Haydock's premier betting contest the same afternoon is the Betfred Grand National Trial, for which Welsh National winner Teaforthree is fancied to gain revenge over his Chepstow conqueror Monbeg Dude, being 4-1 favourite with the sponsor, with Monbeg Dude a point longer. Teaforthree, however, is also entered for the Ascot Chase and one other race at the Berkshire track.
Haydock clerk Kirkland Tellwright said on Monday: "It's undoubtedly heavy at the moment but after about Wednesday the weather calms down a bit. There's going to be no miracle, it will still by heavy on Saturday."