Cue Card Bounces Back and Super-Sub Canyon Strikes Again
Betfair Chase Success for Cue Card
There were many question marks hanging over the heads of the main contenders ahead of Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock. Each of Cue Card, Coneygree and Silviniaco Conti arrived at the Merseyside venue bidding to dispel doubts surrounding their current wellbeing/form. Could they rediscover their sparkle?
Whilst Coneygree ran a highly creditable race in second, on what was his first start in nearly a year, it was Colin Tizzard’s, Cue Card, who stole the show. The hugely popular 10 year old put a sub-par effort last time out at Wetherby well and truly behind him, to slam this field by 15 lengths. No stranger to success in this contest, Cue Card was making it a hat-trick of Betfair Chase wins, having also come home in front in 2013 and 2015.
It will be another defence of a race he won last year up next for Cue Card, this time in the King George VI at Kempton. Success there and another tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup and a possible £1 million bonus could be on the cards. He’s currently a 6/1 shot for the Cheltenham showpiece. For jockey Paddy Brennan, this victory put the icing on the cake of an already memorable week. Brennan’s win aboard Colin’s Sister last Wednesday was the 1000th of his career. A fine achievement.
Morgiana Hurdle Triumph for Mullins
Sunday’s big Grade 1 event came over in Ireland, with this years running of the Morgiana Hurdle. With both Faugheen and Annie Power featuring amongst the entries for this, many race fans were eagerly anticipating an early sighting of at least one of the real superstars from the past couple of seasons.
In the end neither of the Rich Ricci owned, Willie Mullins trained runners made it post; due to a slight knock for Faugheen, and poor home work in the case of Annie Power. Mullins certainly doesn’t lack for ammunition when it comes to these Grade 1 contests however, and was still able to call upon his talented six year old, Nichols Canyon, to fly the flag for the yard. Substitutes don’t come much better than a six-time Grade 1 winner who took this very race in 2015, and he looked tough to beat. The tough filly Jer’s Girl kept Nichols Canyon up to his work, but once push came to shove two from home there was only ever going to be one winner.
The Mullins runner duly pulled 12 lengths clear come the line to hand his trainer a sixth consecutive win in the race. A step up in trip beckons for Nichols Canyon for the remainder of the season. He’s currently a tempting 8/1 shot for the World Hurdle.
The top class jumping action continues with another pair of excellent contests in store this coming weekend. Saturday’s big Grade 1 race comes up at Newcastle, as the track plays host to the 2016 edition of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. The market here is headed by Alan King’s four year old, Sceau Royal at 6/4. He arrives at the race in fine form following a nine length success at Grade 2 level last time out.
Also on Saturday afternoon, one of the most prestigious jumping handicaps of the season takes place at Newbury, as the Hennessy Gold Cup headlines a cracking card. Hot on the heels of Cue Card’s success at the weekend, Colin Tizzard looks to have every chance of bagging another big Saturday prize, as it is his Native River who heads the market for this one. A Grade 1 winner last term the six year old looks set to go well in this Grade 3 event, but faces stiff opposition with the likes of Un Temps Pour Tout, Vyta Du Roc and Saphir Du Rheu also in the line-up.