Paddy Brennan, who has partnered the popular chaser Cue Card to five Grade One victories over the past two seasons, has lost the ride on Colin Tizzard’s 11-year-old to Harry Cobden after Cue Card suffered his second fall in three outings in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on Saturday.
Cue Card, who took the Champion Bumper in 2010 and the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham three years later, had not won a race for nearly two years when Brennan took over in his saddle in October 2015. The new partnership immediately reeled off three wins, including the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day to set themselves up for a chance to win a £1m bonus with victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Cue Card was still going strongly with three to jump at Cheltenham, but suffered what was at the time only the second fall of his career at the third last. He fell at the same obstacle in last season’s Gold Cup, and five out at Wetherby on Saturday.
“The horse is in lovely form,” Tizzard told At The Races at Chepstow on Wednesday, “it’s just three times he’s fallen now [with Brennan riding]. There’s no detriment to Paddy at all, but enough’s enough at times, and we’ll try someone else and see what happens.”
Joe Tizzard, who rode Cue Card for the first 20 starts of his career including his two wins at the Cheltenham Festival, later expanded on the reasons for the decision to replace Brennan.
“It’s not anything against Paddy,” Tizzard Jnr said. “He’s had some fantastic days on the horse. I think they’ve perhaps got to know each other too well and the horse is in the later stages of his career, and it’s time to have a change on him.
“I’m not going to lie, if the horse had won on Saturday then this wouldn’t be happening, whereas three times now the two of them have got it wrong between themselves.
“So we’re going to have a change, Harry Cobden has come in for the ride and he’s a good young lad. He came in and schooled him this morning. The horse had remembered Saturday’s fall, he went into the first and gave it a lot of height. He jumped some hurdles and then popped him over eight or 10 fences and it was good.”
Cobden, who is 19, rode out his claim less than 12 months ago and landed a Grade One winner as a conditional when he steered Irving to victory in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle last November. He also registered a win over the Grand National fences at Aintree in April this year, when Tizzard’s Ultragold took the Topham Handicap Chase.
“It’s a great opportunity for a young jockey to pick up a ride like that and the next target is the [Grade One] Betfair Chase [at Haydock on 25 November],” Cobden said at Chepstow. “I schooled him this morning and he felt A1. I’ve not really got any commitments in Graded races so it will be nice riding a horse like that as these opportunities don’t come around too often.”
Thistlecrack, an outstanding winner of last year’s King George VI Chase and another of the stars in the Tizzard stable, is among 26 entries for this year’s race on 26 December and is now back in training after suffering a tendon injury which forced him to miss the second half of last season.
“We had him in first week in August, we’re now nearly in November and we’re just starting to go a bit faster with him,” Tizzard Snr told the Love The Jumps podcast. “He’s got a month of fast work and he’ll be ready to run. He’ll have a hurdle [the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on 1 December] before we go in the King George because we can’t really go there first time up.
“I feel his legs once a week now and someone else feels them every other day. There’s nothing there to be seen. So we’ll treat him now with no kid gloves. He will be doing all his work in the next month ready for his first race.”
Greg Wood’s tips for Thursday
Newbury 12.40 Lostintranslation 1.10 Dell’Arca 1.40 Mr Medic 2.10 Countister 2.45 Topofthegame 3.20 Volpone Jelois 3.55 Irish Prince
Ludlow 1.20 If You Say Run 1.50 Robinshill 2.20 Tempuran 2.55 Orbasa 3.30 Dizzey Heights 4.05 Imperial Nemesis
Market Rasen 1.00 Knight Destroyer 1.30 Raised On Grazeon 2.00 Debdebdeb 2.35 Shady Glen 3.10 Pretty Reckless 3.45 Shrubland
Chelmsford City 5.15 Maypole 5.45 Vegas Boy 6.15 Gronkowski 6.45 Making Miracles 7.15 Middle Kingdom (nap) 7.45 Miracle Garden (nb) 8.15 Ifubelieveindreams