Fan favourite Cue Card could be about to start the final legs of his farewell tour, but trainer Colin Tizzard is confident the 12-year-old can still deliver on the biggest stages.
The 2010 Champion Bumper and 2013 Ryanair winner was last seen finishing second to Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, and is on target to try and win the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase for a third time next month, before a seventh Cheltenham Festival appearance.
"He'll go for the Ascot Chase and then onto Cheltenham," Tizzard said at Wincanton on Thursday. "He's fine and fresh as a button. He had a bruised foot and it was hanging around for a week, but we always said since he fractured his pelvis five years ago, he hasn't missed a day, so he deserves to miss a week - every other bloody horse I train does!"
A best-priced 25-1 for the Ryanair and 50-1 for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, Cue Card may be considered an outsider to triumph at the meeting again, but Tizzard thinks the veteran's form stands up well.
"He's entered in the Ryanair and Gold Cup, but we'll see what he does at Ascot," the trainer added. "We've all seen what these older horses can do and his second at Haydock - take the winner out as that was a freak performance, out of this world - he beat two horses after that [Tea For Two and Outlander] who have been placed in Grade 1s.
"He beat them 20 lengths and on that form he would've won the King George. Bristol De Mai did something that day to blow the rest apart but Cue Card still beat those others. His form is good and you look at his handicap mark - he's still about the fourth best in the country; the handicapper is saying."