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Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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Cue Card on Course for Supreme Novice Bid

The Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card might have lost his unbeaten record when finishing second to Menorah in the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, but he still remains market leader and a highly popular choice for honours in the opening race of the 2011 Cheltenham Festival, the Supreme Novices Hurdle, writes Elliot Slater.

Cue Card

Cue Card

An outstanding winner of last season’s Championship Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival (beating Al Ferof by eight lengths), the five-year-old made a sparkling start to his hurdling career and hinted that he might be one of the few major bumper winners to go on and prove just as good over timber, when hacking to victory at Aintree in October without ever being asked a question. His subsequent demolition job on the smart Dunraven Storm in the Grade 2 Sharp Novices’ Hurdle back at Cheltenham in November, had tongues wagging that he might already be a possible Champion Hurdle contender, an opinion which was strengthened in the eyes of some by his fine effort in going down with all guns blazing against the top-class Menorah.

Cheltenham festival betting pundits note how Tizzard’s team generally seem in good form despite the severe winter weather, but the temptation to run Cue Card again before the festival will certainly be resisted as connections continue to weigh up whether or not they should stick with the novice option and go for the ‘Supreme, (or even the Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle), or go for the blue riband itself on March 15.

The general feeling is that Tizzard will wait another year before going for the Champion Hurdle, giving the King’s Theatre gelding more experience at a high level before pitching him in against the best in the business. If he does indeed go for the Supreme Novices Hurdle, (the opening race of the four-day jumps extravaganza), Cue Card (5/2f) will be many British punters banker of the meeting.

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