TRUMP CARD; Tizzard: My star holds all the aces in Kempton showpiece.
Byline: DAVID YATES
CUE CARD has fluffed his lines three times on the King George stage, but Colin Tizzard expects a command performance at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Two fifth placings either side of a runner-up spot are all the nine-yearold has to show for his three attempts at the Christmas showpiece.
But, after two convincing victories this winter, Cue Card is rated the home defence's best chance of stopping the prize being exported to Ireland for the first time since Kicking King gained the second of his triumphs in 2005.
"There have been excuses every time we've been to the King George," said Dorset trainer Tizzard (right). "But he's been perfect - there will be no excuses this time."
Five defeats last season convinced many Cue Card, the winner of four Grade 1 chases since stunning his rivals at 40-1 in the Cheltenham Festival Bumper in March 2010, was not the force of old.
But, having followed a return-toaction Charlie Hall Chase score at Wetherby by dismissing old rival Silviniaco Conti - winner of the last two King Georges - by seven lengths in Haydock's Betfair Chase last month, Cue Card is as short as 3-1 to make it fourth time lucky this weekend.
"Cue Card's epiglottis was operated on in February," explains Tizzard. "When he had it really bad he couldn't breathe.
"It's saggy old skin and it blocked the air pipe - it was like a golf ball was stuck in his throat."
A move to a new box, a link up with Paddy Brennan upon the retirement of Cue Card's regular jockey, Tizzard's son Joe, and a more relaxed demeanour have also played their part.
Despite three previous failures, Tizzard remains adamant Cue Card can show his best at Kempton.
"He's been a damn good horse for five years now and he deserves to win a King George - he's a classy, brilliant horse and he ought to have that race to his name."
NO RACING TODAY BUT GET YOUR FIRST LOOK AT ST STEPHEN'S CARDS IN TOMORROW'S MIRROR
RIGHT ON CUE Cue Card attempts to make it fourth time lucky