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Grand National Meeting 4th - 6th April 2013 

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Big Guns Lining Up for John Smith’s Melling Chase

Trainer Colin Tizzard is looking forward to a potential clash with Sprinter Sacre and Irish ace Flemenstar after confirming his stable star Cue Card is on course for the £200,000 Grade One John Smith’s Melling Chase (3.05pm) over two and a half miles at Aintree on Ladies’ Day of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting, Friday, April 5.

Cue Card
© Racehorse Photos

Cue Card

Cue Card has established himself as the leading intermediate chaser this term with emphatic victories in Exeter’s sportingbet Haldon Gold Cup, the Ascot Chase and the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this month, when he slammed Grade One scorer First Lieutenant by nine lengths.

The seven-year-old could renew his rivalry with Sprinter Sacre, who confirmed himself one of the best chasers of modern times with a breathtaking 19-length romp in the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The pair met in the 2012 Racing Post Arkle Chase over two miles at Cheltenham with Sprinter Sacre running out a seven-length winner, although Nicky Henderson’s charge will be tackling two and a half miles over fences for the first time at Aintree.

© Caroline Norris

Irish raider Flemenstar adds further spice to the contest after missing the Cheltenham Festival with a lung infection. Peter Casey’s star is a three-time Grade One winner over fences and brushed aside subsequent Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown in December.

Tizzard revealed: “Cue Card is on course for the John Smith’s 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 John Smith’s 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.”

Aintree’s John Smith’s Grand National meeting gets underway on Grand Opening Day, Thursday, April 4, which features four Grade Ones on a fantastic seven-race card, while the £975,000 John Smith’s Grand National is the feature race on Grand National Day, Saturday April 6.

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