Cue Card: Ryanair hero on course to meet Sprinter Sacre and FlemenstarPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Tizzard relishing Melling Chase clash with Sacre
TRAINER Colin Tizzard has paved the way for one of the most highly anticipated clashes of the season after revealing impressive Ryanair Chase winner Cue Card is ready to do battle with scintillating Champion Chase hero Sprinter Sacre and top-class Irish raider Flemenstar in the John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree on April 5.
The trio are primed to meet in the 2m4f contest and Tizzard, who told the Racing Post Cue Card still has the option of running at Punchestown next month, reported his stable star on course for his next assignment.
The trainer said: "He did some fast work today and he couldn't be in better form.
"I think the John Smith's Melling Chase is shaping up to be a very, very good race if all three of them turn up. We have avoided Sprinter Sacre once already this year but this is over two and a half miles, which is Cue Card's trip."
Cue Card landed Exeter's Haldon Gold Cup and the Betfair Ascot Chase before his sparkling nine-length romp at the Cheltenham Festival this month, but he was slammed seven lengths by Sprinter Sacre in last season's Racing Post Arkle.
However, Tizzard believes the seven-year-old has improved this year and added: "At the moment he's going to Aintree, but there's still plenty of time to change our minds. After his last two performances, we are entitled to think we have the best two-and-a-half miler but I have no reason to doubt that Sprinter Sacre will get the trip.
"We got within seven lengths of him last year in the Arkle but I feel we are a much better horse this year whereas Sprinter Sacre hasn't had a hard race since then. We don't know if he is better compared to last season because he hasn't been tested."
Paddy Power have priced up the Melling Chase, with Sprinter Sacre heading the market at 1-3 following his imperious 19-length defeat of Sizing Europe in the Champion Chase for trainer Nicky Henderson.
The Peter Casey-trained Flemenstar is next best at 4-1, with Cue Card available at 7-1.