Cue Card heads for Gold Cup as connections scrap Ryanair Chase entry
Colin Tizzard and owner Jean Bishop want to put the record straight in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with Cue Card and have shown their single-mindedness by taking him out of the Ryanair Chase.
Cue Card is in "flying form" in advance of trying to win a second Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday; the 11-year-old won the Grade 1 four years ago before going on to land the Ryanair.
Of the decision to lump all their eggs in the Gold Cup basket, Tizzard said: "We had a discussion with Jean and didn't want to have the worry of having to make a late decision – it takes all temptation away and it wouldn't make any difference winning the Ryanair again."
Instead Bishop and Tizzard hope Cue Card can atone for last year's fall when disputing the lead and travelling well at the third-last in the Gold Cup.
Like many, Tizzard feels Cue Card was about to deliver his greatest victory – and the Jockey Club's £1 million chase triple crown bonus in the process – and wants him to have another crack.
"Cue Card schooled yesterday on the grass and is in flying form," continued Tizzard, who could still have a Ryanair contender as both Royal Vacation and Alary remained in the race at Wednesday's forfeit stage.
"Nothing has been decided yet. Alary didn't have a scratch on him after what looked a terrible fall at Exeter on Sunday.
"I don't think he's a three-miler and we'll probably run him over two or two and a half. He might be one for the Ryanair but it wouldn't be ideal going there with a 'P' and 'F' from his last two runs."
Royal Vacation could carry the Bishop colours in the Ryanair, though last month's impressive Cheltenham novice handicap chase winner has the RSA Chase entry as well.
Shantou Flyer is set to take on Cue Card at Ascot on Saturday before bypassing Cheltenham for Aintree.
Trainer Rebecca Curtis said: "He'll probably run on Saturday. It's a Grade 1 and his absolute minimum trip, but if you look at ratings he's not too far off most of them apart from Cue Card.
"It's good prize-money – £150,000 – so we'll run him there and then keep him fresh for Aintree."
Cheltenham is completely sold out in all three enclosures for Gold Cup day, two weeks ahead of last year, although limited hospitality packages do remain.