Betfair date on cards for Cue
Colin Tizzard has nominated the Betfair Chase at Haydock as an early-season target for his stable star Cue Card.
The six-year-old shot to prominence with an incredible performance in the 2010 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and he has continued to impress over hurdles and fences for the past two seasons.
He was last seen chasing home the all-conquering Sprinter Sacre in the Arkle Trophy over two miles, but Tizzard can see his charge stepping up to staying trips this season, possibly tackling three miles for the first time on Merseyside on November 24.
"The plan with him is to start off at Kempton in a graduation chase and then we'll see where we go from there," said Tizzard.
"I would say the Paddy Power Gold Cup is unlikely as he's rated 157 and carrying top-weight in a 20-runner handicap round Cheltenham doesn't really appeal to me.
"I think we could step up to three miles at Haydock. Things might change in the next few weeks, but that's the way we're looking at the moment.
"He's a really athletic horse, he looks almost fit enough to run. I think we are going to end up going over three miles with him. There is huge prize-money on offer in those top races and this could be the season to have a go.
"If we go to Kempton and then Haydock, then we'll know where we are around Christmas time. We might have to come back in trip, we might not."
Cue Card can be backed at 10-1 for the two-mile-five-furlong Ryanair Chase at next year's Cheltenham Festival, while he is a 33-1 shot for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Another of Tizzard's leading lights is proven stayer Hey Big Spender, who won the Classic Chase at Warwick in January but missed the end of the season after suffering a setback.
"He had a small injury but he's been back in about three weeks and will hopefully be ready to run in the middle of December," said Tizzard.
"He's rated 157 as well so we might have to run in conditions races later on, although he'll probably get an entry in the Welsh National.
"He loves proper winter ground and is a proper stayer, so some of those big races in Ireland might be tempting.
"Then there is Grand National to consider later on, but the ground might have dried up by April, so we'll see."
One Tizzard inmate who will not be in action this coming season is talented novice hurdler Grand Vision, who has been sidelined by injury.
"He got a tendon injury after running third in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. It's not too bad but it will keep him out for this season," said the trainer.