Bookmakers were running for cover after the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card made an impressive winning return to the fray in the Grade 2 Sportingbet Haldon Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Exeter, slashing the odds of a win for the gelding in the King George VI chase at Kempton on Boxing Day to just 10/1 from his previous mark of up to 25/1, writes Elliot Slater.
There’s little doubt that the six-year-old could hardly have been more impressive in beating champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ Edgardo Sol by no less than 26 lengths after making most of the running in the two-and-a-quarter-mile event and jumping brilliantly throughout. The son of King’s Theatre was well clear before the fourth from home and cantered across the line to present his credentials for top honours in the chasing division this season.
A winner over two and two-and-a-half miles so far in a highly successful career that began with a bang when winning the Champion Bumper at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival, Cue Card developed into a smart novice chaser last term winning on his fencing bow at Chepstow before unseating his rider when still going strongly in the Cheltenham contest won by the smart Grand Crus last November. He soon made amends by pushing eventual Festival winner Bobs Worth all the way at Newbury in the Grade 2 London Pride Novices’ Chase, eventually failing by just a nose to peg back Nicky Henderson’s star performer, then got his head in front back at the Berkshire track on New Year’s Eve, beating For Non Stop by four lengths.
Runner-up to the brilliant Sprinter Sacre in the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham festival in March over two miles, plenty of horse racing news writers and experts have questioned whether Cue Card has the stamina to last home an extra mile at Kempton on Boxing Day, but if he is going to see out the trip anywhere then the Sunbury track is the best place and the easy three miles gives the Tizzard’s charge a fair chance of lasting home.