Ryanair Chase the pre-season Cheltenham aim for Cue Card
Cue Card first burst into the racing consciousness when a 40/1 surprise winner of the Cheltenham Festival Champion Bumper in 2010 although his route through the National Hunt ranks has seldom matched the ease of that eight-length victory.
When the 2012/13 campaign began Cue Card was one of the top names in the odds for every Cheltenham championship steeplechase going, from the Queen Mother Champion Chase, to the Ryanair Chase and even the Gold Cup.
The Cheltenham 2014 odds will certainly point towards him returning in an attempt to mirror Albertas Run’s achievement of two successive victories in the Ryanair and its intermediate trip seemed to suit him down to the ground.
Stable jockey Colin Tizzard implied as much, when confirming plans for the season would also include the 3m King George at Kempton over Christmas.
The manner of the gelding’s victory in the Ryanair Chase – in which he bounded home nine lengths clear of the well-fancied First Lieutenant – suggests that the intermediate 2m4f may be his best trip.
Cue Card wouldn’t be among many punters’ Cheltenham 2014 tips if choosing to tackle Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase or Bobs Worth, Sir Des Champs and friends in the Gold Cup, however the temptation to tackle the more prestigious races remains.
The seven-year-old’s name will remain conspicuous in the Cheltenham 2014 odds for those other two Grade 1 races and with Tizzard junior suggesting his mount is a more relaxed horse this year there’s clearly hope that trips at around 3m may be within his compass.
Meanwhile no other horse has got as close to Sprinter Sacre over fences as Cue Card did at Aintree in 2013 and his sporting owners may fancy another crack at the current king of jumps racing.