Alice Fox-Pitt: My week with Cheltenham Gold Cup prospect Cue Card

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  • Ahead of the Cheltenham Festival (15-18 March) Channel 4 Racing presenter Alice Fox-Pitt spent a week as stable lass to Gold Cup hopeful Cue Card. Find out what she made of her time with the Tizzard team…

    When did you first hear about Cue Card?

    I have loved Cue Card ever since he was a four-year-old. I first heard about him while out hunting — I got chatting to Colin Tizzard, who happened to mention he had ‘a very good bumper horse’ in his yard. I have watched ‘Crackle’ ever since and he has been a wonderful horse to follow. I have always raved about him at Cheltenham preview nights.

    Living just a stone’s throw from Tizzard’s Milborne Port yard, I thought how wonderful it would be, on the lead up to Cheltenham, to spend time as Crackle’s stable lass and see what he’s really like at home. I approached Colin with my idea and to my delight he agreed.

    What did your job as stable lass involve?

    Each day began at 7am sharp on the yard, where I was met by Colin’s daughter and the yard manager Kim Gingell.

    Crackle’s actual stable lad Hamir Sing has been part of the Tizzard team for six seasons and is so committed to his job.

    While Hamir took on the important role of riding Crackle out on first lot, my job back in the yard was to muck his stable out and fill the water and hay ready for their return. Once the pair came back from the gallops, I manned the hose to wash him down before putting him on the horse walker to cool off.

    On my final day with the wonderful Tizzard team, I was delighted to be allowed to ride Theatre Guide (pictured above, left) — the yard’s Ultima Chase prospect — upsides Crackle on the gallops. From that experience I could see just how athletic Colin’s stable star is.

    What is Crackle like in the stable?

    In his box, he is a very kind horse and never puts his ears back. He bounces in and out of the yard and clearly loves his routine.

    To be allowed to have access to a horse like him before the Cheltenham Festival was an absolute privilege. I compare it to joining the British rugby team ahead of the Six Nations and that is no understatement — this horse is going for the Gold Cup and a £1million bonus, it’s huge.

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    Colin Tizzard is enjoying his best season ever and has won the most prize-money yet in his training career. That is alongside farming about 350 cows too. He’s moved his horses to a lovely new yard and has an amazing team around him, including his wife, Pauline, Kim and his son, former jockey Joe.

    I was so impressed particularly with how professional yet relaxed the yard is — they live and breathe racing and their horses. It was a pleasure to be a part of, even if just for a few days.

    I for one will be keeping my fingers firmly crossed on Friday 18 March as Crackle takes on the Gold Cup. Good Luck team Tizzard!

    Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s Cheltenham Festival preview on sale Thursday 10 March — we visit Cue Card at home, meet the racecourse’s clerk of the course and much more.

    Channel 4 Racing’s ‘The Morning Line’ is live daily from 8am (15-18 March) with the Festival coverage starting at 12.35pm.

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