Past Winners » Cue Card


(Message of 20th November)

Cue Card should be quite a bit closer to Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti than he is in the market, and he is well worth backing now at 8/1.

Obviously Colin Tizzard’s horse has his stamina to prove over this trip, but there is a chance that he has largely been written off as a non-stayer on the back of one run at three miles in last season’s King George. It is true he didn’t get home there, but that race was run at a hard pace in attritional conditions, it became a real war of attrition and most horses in the race didn’t get home.

On top of that, Cue Card made quite a bad mistake at the first fence, and he didn’t really settle when Joe Tizzard tried to tuck him in behind horses. He was fresh, it had been seven weeks since his previous run, and he didn’t really give himself a chance of getting home. His reappearance this season was less than three weeks ago so he shouldn’t be so fresh on Saturday.

By King’s Theatre out of a mare who won three times over three miles, he is bred to stay. Also, he is settling better in his races, he seems to be a more relaxed horse then he was a year ago. In his younger days he just wanted to do everything in a bit of a rush.

He settled really well in the Melling Chase at Aintree in April, even though he was taken on throughout by Flemenstar, and his jumping was really good there, he hardly made a mistake. It could be that his jumping is best when he goes left-handed – he did jump out to his left a bit at Exeter on his recent reappearance – and perhaps away from Cheltenham where he is still prone to the odd error. His RPR of 178 when he finished second to Sprinter Sacre in the Melling Chase is actually the second highest RPR achieved by any horse in the race on Saturday, bettered only by Bobs Worth’s Gold Cup win.

He will be able to travel well within his comfort zone on Saturday, and that should help his jumping, he shouldn’t be rushed at his fences. He proved that he can settle well when faced with competition for the lead in the Melling Chase, so hopefully they won’t ride him negatively and tuck him in. Hopefully they will allow him to sit on or close to the pace, or lead. He is at his best when he is ridden that way, as his win in the Ryanair showed, and it seems that Colin Tizzard is leaning that way.

He would have a better chance had the race been run, as it usually is, over a bare three miles on the inner jumps course rather than over three miles and a furlong on an outer track at Haydcok, but lots has been made of the switch. It has probably added a point or two to his odds.

He proved that he stays two miles five and a half furlongs on a stiff track on soft ground really well when he won the Ascot Chase last season and, while Captain Chris did blunder away his chance at the second last that day, Cue Card galloped on all the way to the line to win by six lengths. He was not stopping on the run-in.

Also, that run didn’t appear to have bottomed him, as he came back less than four weeks later to win that Ryanair Chase, staying on really powerfully up the hill having set a strong pace throughout. He then went and bettered that effort in defeat to Sprinter Sacre in the Melling Chase just three weeks later, which shows that he can’t have gone right to the bottom of the well when winning at Cheltenham either.

Bobs Worth is too short in my book at 2/1. His season is being geared exclusively around the Gold Cup and, even though he won the Hennessy on his reappearance last season, he was getting 6lb from Tidal Bay and a strongly-run race over three miles two and a half furlongs will be quite different from what he is likely to face on Saturday. Also, Nicky Henderson’s horses seem to be just a little below the high standard that we have come to expect from them.

Silviniaco Conti is the biggest danger in my book, he has an awful lot in his favour. But he is just about right at 5/2 ante post …

CUE CARD WON (ADV 8/1, SP 9/1)