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Virus concerns for Tizzard ahead of Cue Card's King George bid

Colin Tizzard’s star is the favourite for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day.

Cue Card: impressive winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.
Cue Card: impressive winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.
Image: John Giles/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Horse racing news brought to you in association with GallopsLive.com.

COLIN TIZZARD HAS issued a “low-grade” virus warning from his yard ahead of stable star Cue Card’s attempt on the King George VI Chase at Kempton .

Fifth in last year’s running of the Grade 1 Chase, the seven-year-old remains on course for the showpiece and is currently not one of the horses affected by the bug at the Venn Farm stable in Dorset.

Tizzard explained this morning that they are experiencing a “low-grade virus” and “will have it for the remainder of the season.”

“A few of the lesser horses haven’t been running up to scratch and some of them have been atrocious.

“Masters Hill ran in the Badger Ales at Wincanton. He hit one [fence] and then stopped like he’d been shot.”

According to the trainer those that have been running below par had not shown any obvious signs of being under the weather prior to reaching the race course. Tizzard has therefore decided not to isolate Cue Card from the main yard in the build up to his Kempton entry.

“It doesn’t last as long in the good ones, they have it for two or three days and they get over it. The lesser ones, it seems to drag on for three weeks.”

The trainer’s son Joe, the only jockey to have ridden the four-time Grade 1 winner, suggested Cue Card may have been affected already.

“He might have already had it this year and we got away with it. He was definitely not as good as he can be at Exeter,” he explained when referring to Cue Card’s third-place finish in the Grade 2 Haldon Gold Cup in early November.

Cue Card is priced a general 5/2 chance to win the King George following a hugely impressive win at Haydock in the Betfair Chase last month.

Previous stamina doubts appeared to be answered that day with victory over the 3m 1f trip but the fallout from the race suggested the new track lay out, caused by damage to the regular Haydock course, meant it was perhaps not such a test of staying prowess.

With the likes of Dynaste, Silviniaco Conti, Al Ferof and last years King George winner Long Run all expected to oppose then, Cue Card will need to be at his very best on the 26 December to take one of National Hunt Racing’s biggest prizes this year.

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Dean Ryan

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