/ Racing

Melling Chase shaping up as highlight of Aintree Festival

Updated: Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013 15:16 | Comments

Cue Card was a nine-length winner of the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival
Cue Card was a nine-length winner of the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival

Trainer Colin Tizzard has confirmed Cue Card on course for a thrilling possible clash with Sprinter Sacre and Flemenstar in the John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree on Friday week.

The last time Cue Card and Sprinter Sacre met was in last year's Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, when Cue Card finished a seven-length runner-up behind Nicky Henderson's awesome stable star.

Sprinter Sacre has dominated the two-mile division this season, culminating in a glorious display in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and connections are keen on testing him over two and a half miles on Merseyside next week.

Cue Card heads for Aintree following a scintillating display in the Ryanair Chase and throw Irish hope Flemenstar into the mix, the Melling Chase promises to be a race to savour.

Tizzard said: "Cue Card is on course for the Melling Chase. He did some fast work today and he couldn't be in better form.

"I'd say it was one of his best performances at Cheltenham but he was very good at Ascot and his win in the Haldon Gold Cup was right up there.

"He has had one blip all season and that was in the King George but I don't think he was quite right myself. Horses aren't machines and you need everything to be 100 per cent in these championship races and I don't think he was on song that day.

"He has been top class in his three other performances this season and has been as good as nearly everything else racing.

"I think the Melling Chase is shaping up to be a very, very good race if all three of them turn up. We have avoided Sprinter Sacre once already this year but this is over two and a half miles, which is Cue Card's trip.

"After his last two performances, we are entitled to think we have the best two and a half miler but I have no reason to doubt that Sprinter Sacre will get the trip.

"We got within seven lengths of him last year in the Arkle but I feel we are a much better horse this year whereas Sprinter Sacre hasn't had a hard race since then.

"We don't know if he is better compared to last season because he hasn't been tested."

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