CUE Card marked himself as a true contender for the King George VI Chase as he turned in a spring-heeled display of jumping in the sportingbet Haldon Gold Cup Limited Handicap Chase at Exeter yesterday.
The former top bumper and two-mile novice hurdler staged an exhibition round in which he hardly touched a twig and was on occasions – such as when pinging the ditch on the far side of the track – quite spectacular to watch.
With his main market rival Men-orah toiling throughout, the 5-6 favourite gradually pulled clear under jockey Joe Tizzard as he met each of the four fences in the home straight spot-on.
In the end, he had 26 lengths to spare as Edgardo Sol rallied to go past a tired Menorah after that one made a bad mistake at the final fence.
There was a strong bookmaker reaction to the display, with Paddy Power making Cue Card 8-1 from 16s for the King George while Victor Chandler offer only 7s from 25-1.
Milborne Port handler Colin Tizzard has always had Kempton’s Boxing Day highlight in mind for the six-year-old.
He said: “Watching him yesterday, it makes you wonder why you would ever think of going up to three miles, but Kempton has been his target and if he’s ever going to get three miles, it will be round there.
“Pace is just not an issue for him as he was always cruising. He used to tank but he was a lot less fizzy than he normally is on his first run back. When Joe squeezed him up, he was gone.”
The Tizzards prevented Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh from landing a treble on the day when Theatre Guide (6-1) benefited from a superb waiting ride to land the Gain Horse Feeds Novices’ Chase