Five face Cue Card at Ascot
Cue Card will face five rivals when he completes his Cheltenham Festival preparations in Saturday's Ascot Chase.
The Colin Tizzard-trained star hasn't run since giving best to stablemate Thistlecrack in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
After he runs at Ascot, Cue Card is bound for the Cheltenham Gold Cup next month, where he is set to face a tantalising rematch with Thistlecrack and the prospect of also taking on a third Tizzard-trained contender in Native River.
For now, Cue Card will square off against Royal Regatta, Taquin Du Seuil, Shantou Flyer and Irish Cavalier in the 2m5f Ascot Grade One at 15:35 on Saturday, which Tizzard's charge is 4/9 to win.
There had been some suggestion that connections were thinking about rerouting Cue Card towards the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham next month, in the face of what appears set to be an intensely competitive Gold Cup.
The 11-year-old won the intermediate contest before in 2013 and the Dorset handler has now confirmed that neither he nor Cue Card's owner Jean Bishop is keen on targeting a repeat bid.
As such, he has been confirmed as a Gold Cup runner and is now 3/1 to win the Blue Riband on 17th March.
"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," Tizzard told the Racing Post in regards to Cheltenham.
Thistlecrack, meanwhile, is 7/4 to land the Gold Cup on the back of his surprise defeat to Many Clouds at Cheltenham on Trials Day last month.
Native River enhanced his claims with victory at Newbury last weekend in the Denman Chase and is now a 5/2 shot.
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