Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 24 August 2019

Cue Card and Thistlecrack come face to face at the King George

Paddy Brennan reports Cue Card to be in tip-top shape ahead of his mouthwatering clash with stablemate Thistlecrack
Paddy Brennan reports Cue Card to be in tip-top shape ahead of his mouthwatering clash with stablemate Thistlecrack

The showdown is on after both Cue Card and Thistlecrack featured among five declarations for the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.

The duo are trained in Somerset by Colin Tizzard, who has enjoyed an incredible run of fortune so far this season - with Cue Card's Betfair Chase victory and Native River's Hennessy win two particular highlights.

Thistlecrack has made an immediate impact in the chasing ranks, with last season's World Hurdle hero winning each of his three outings over the larger obstacles this term.

He won a Grade Two event at Newbury on his most recent run last month but is facing a huge leap in class as he tackles this Grade One contest.

It will be a major shock if one of the two market leaders does not win, but lying in wait is a former dual winner of the race in Silviniaco Conti. His trainer Paul Nicholls has won the Christmas showpiece nine times already, with five of those victories coming courtesy of Kauto Star.

Josses Hill was supplemented by owner Alan Spence after trainer Nicky Henderson built his confidence back up.

He chased home the ill-fated Vautour in the 2014 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, but failed to set the world alight in his first season over fences, winning just once in three starts last term.

However, Josses Hill has won both of his outings this campaign, with his Peterborough Chase win last time out booking his ticket for this event.

Tea For Two chased him home at Huntingdon and is expected to be suited by the step back up to three miles, having won the Kauto Star Novices' Chase on the card last year.

The two horses not declared were the Gigginstown House Stud-owned pair of Road To Riches and Roi Des Francs.

Meanwhile, Identity Thief and Min are the star names among seven horses declared for the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

Henry de Bromhead's top-class hurdler Identity Thief is two from two since having his attentions turned to fences this season, most recently winning the Grade Two Craddockstown Novice Chase at Punchestown.

De Bromhead also saddles Craddockstown runner-up Ordinary World and Three Stars, who has been placed in Graded company at Cheltenham and Navan on his last two starts.

Willie Mullins claimed this Grade One prize for the third time in five years with the brilliant Douvan 12 months ago and relies on Min this time around.

Runner-up to Altior in last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the five-year-old made a flying start to his chasing career at Navan last month.

The Mouse Morris-trained Baily Cloud, Noel Meade's Road To Respect and Tully East from Alan Fleming's yard complete the line-up.

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