• Cheltenham Festival

Cue Card heads Ryanair Chase 11

ESPN staff
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Cue Card will swerve a clash with Sprinter Sacre © PA Photos
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Cue Card heads the 11 acceptors for the Ryanair Chase, with trainer Colin Tizzard admitting it was a straightforward decision to sidestep the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Tizzard's charge put himself firmly in the frame for the race with an impressive victory at Ascot. The Champion Chase was heavily considered, but the trainer feels it would be pointless attempting to lock horns with Sprinter Sacre.

"It was a straightforward decision to go for the Ryanair," Tizzard said. "We took on Sprinter Sacre and he beat us, and on all known form he'd probably beat us again. We're the favourite for the Ryanair, so it wasn't difficult.

"He'll stay in the Champion Chase in case something went wrong with Sprinter Sacre anyway."

The number of runners is up in the air, as a host of horses - Sizing Europe, Finian's Rainbow and First Lieutenant among them hold multiple entries.

The winners of the last three renewals (Riverside Theatre 2012 and Albertas Runs 2010 & 2011) stand their ground, as do Champion Court and Menorah. For Non Stop, Ghizao and Walkon are the other entries.

Quevega has been kept in the World Hurdle field, although her primary target is a fifth win in the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle.

A total of 18 have been declared, with Monksland and Grands Crus the notable absentees. Nicky Henderson's Oscar Whisky heads the market.

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