Rejuvenated chaser Cue Card claimed his second Betfair Chase in emphatic style when comfortably beating 5/4 favourite Silviniaco Conti.
Colin Tizzard’s stable star backed up his Charlie Hall victory by taking the first leg of the newly initiated Jockey Club Triple Crown and left connections dreaming of further big race glory.
Cue Card has always dined at the top table since his 2010 Champion Bumper victory but looked to struggle last season. Following a successful operation for a trapped epiglottis, he has returned with two performances of the highest quality asserting his authority as a top-grade staying chaser.
Silviniaco Conti had been fancied for this contest since his prep run over hurdles, as he is a horse who always comes on for his first run of the season and has an excellent record second time out. Previously the score was 2-1 between these old foes, in favour of Nicholls’ charge, but Cue Card levelled the scores in a impresive manner which left connections of Silviniaco Conti with no excuses.
“Cue Card was very good and there are no excuses,” Paul Nicholls revealed post-race, “He’s run a nice race and they can’t win every time. He jumped a little to the right and we might put the blinkers back on him next time as he races a bit lazily. I suppose we will go to Kempton next.”
The substance of the form was shown by the proximity of Dynaste, a horse who Silviniaco Conti beat by the same margin of five lengths in last seasons King George. Cue Card has improved to overtake these rivals and has set up one of the most eagerly anticipated rematches in the King George come Boxing Day.
The £1million bonus on offer in the inaugural Jockey Club Triple Crown is a mouthwatering prospect for Cue Card now, who has seen his odds slashed from 16/1 to 5/1 for the next race in the series at Kempton.
“Why would we run away from Kempton? There is no reason not to go there,” said Tizzard. “If he is in the form he is in now he would run in the Gold Cup, that is the ultimate race and he has proved he stays.”
Kempton plays host to the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, with a rematch between the front three of Haydock on the cards along with classy Irish raiders Don Cossack and Vautour.