With less than four weeks to go before the Cheltenham Festival gets underway, many of the leading trainers are looking to put the finishing touches to the horses they feel have the potential to make a bold show at the centrepiece meeting of the National Hunt season. This weekend, Colin Tizzard hopes that Cue Card can confirm his well being in the Grade One Ascot Chase, before contesting the Ryanair Chase at the Festival.
I am certain the soft ground that has been prevalent throughout this campaign has meant we have seen less of Cue Card than might have been intended when connections were initially mapping out his campaign. Going conditions at Ascot on Saturday are once again likely to be soft, which means that we may not see him at his best, but if the better ground returns in time for the Festival, Cue Card will be my banker for the big meeting.
Should he overcome the inconvenience of soft ground tomorrow, my confidence will be boosted still further that he can finally realise his true potential over fences in a few weeks’ time.
In direct contrast, Gary Moore will be hoping the ground comes up bottomless at the Festival for his Triumph Hurdle contender Chris Pea Green.
On his second start over hurdles, the juvenile retained his unbeaten record when running away with a decent novice event at Huntingdon recently.
Highlighted by this column a few weeks ago as a horse to keep on the right side, it still came as something of a surprise that he was able to follow up his debut win at Lingfield in such impressive fashion and it now looks as if Chris Pea Green is a realistic contender for the Triumph.
Gary’s progressive Whitby Jack is entered for a valuable handicap hurdle at Ascot tomorrow and he looks to have a very good chance.
If he lives up to expectations then the Imperial Cup at Sandown or the County Hurdle could be on the agenda for a horse that appears to be progressing very steadily.