It might not have occurred to most punters prior to his bid for the Grade 3 Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick recently that Colin Tizzard’s staying chaser Hey Big Spender could be a contender at Cheltenham on March 16 for the Gold Cup, but that could well be the big target this term for the horse who bravely overcame the steadier of 11st 12lbs to win at the Midlands track in particularly determined fashion, writes Elliot Slater.
Tizzard suggested having a crack at the blue riband event of the National Hunt racing after seeing his nine-year-old defy his massive weight to beat the fast-finishing Fredo by three-quarters-of-a-length, giving the runner-up 26lbs. Testing ground clearly makes all the difference for the tough as teak son of Rudimentary who earlier in the term had again showed his battling qualities when outstaying The Hollinwell to land the listed Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle at the end of November under similar underfoot conditions. Those with Cheltenham Free bets should bear this in mind.
Immediately ruling out a bid for the John Smith’s Grand National on the grounds that he believes his horse is not a good enough jumper to successfully tackle the massive spruce fences at the Liverpool track, Tizzard then went on to tell reporters that if the ground came up testing at Cheltenham he would not be at all against having a crack at the big guns such as Kauto Star and Long Run. On the back of his latest win Hey Big Spender’s revised handicap rating will surely be around the 160-mark, a level that whilst being more than a stone behind the two gold Cup market principals would certainly suggest he would not be disgraced if he encounters optimum conditions at the Prestbury track. People looking at the Betfair Cheltenham betting odds need to remember this.
Bookmakers don’t take Hey Big Spender’s chance too seriously though in generally offering odds of around 66/1, but then again they didn’t take the chance of Norton’s Coin too seriously in 1990 when he won the greatest jumps race of all at a massive 100/1!