We’re all playing for second behind Cue Card
17 February 2017
Cue Card is perhaps the member of the Colin Tizzard trio that is getting the least air-time at the moment, but that could all change following the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday.
Colin is in the envious position of being responsible for the first three in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup betting, with Cue Card being the least likely to win according to the bookmakers.
Cue Card may be 11 years old, but last season was his best to date and he showed he is as good as ever this campaign when easily beating Coneygree in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.
He wasn’t beaten too far by stablemate and Gold Cup favourite, Thistlecrack, at Kempton when he didn’t look quite at his best on Boxing Day.
I think there will be some positive reaction around 3.45pm and Colin’s hand will be looking even stronger.
I am on Taquin Du Seuil, who we saw at his tenacious best when winning the BetVictor Gold Cup at The Open. He was then far from disgraced when fifth in the Lexus in Ireland so clearly merits being in this company and will like the soft ground, but I think we’re all playing for second.
I was lucky enough to ride the other member of the Tizzard trio, Native River, to won the Denman Chase at Newbury last weekend.
I obviously was as surprised as anyone when I got the call-up, given Native River’s regular jockey Dickie Johnson had ridden in the earlier races that day.
Dickie was feeling ill and didn’t want to risk anything, so Joe Tizzard came up to me in the weighing room and asked if I could step in.
It was really nice to be asked and a huge pleasure to ride such a good horse. I did have a word with Dickie before and the plan was to ride him with a little more restraint, and like all good horses, the change in tactics made no difference.
He is a real stayer, but clearly has a good turn of foot too. We had one slight misunderstanding at the water jump, which was picked up on, as you’d expect in any big-race analysis but otherwise you couldn’t fault his jumping.
I bet Colin can’t believe his luck he has such talent in his yard and I honestly don’t think Thistlecrack lost anything in defeat when beaten by a very, very good horse in Many Clouds. If given a choice of the three, I wouldn’t know which way to turn!
As for my other rides at Ascot, Go Conquer should have a solid chance in the Keltbray Swinley Chase. He ran very well in a similar race at the course in November. He then fell at the first, again at Ascot, before finishing second at Kempton. He made a couple of jumping mistakes but on the whole he’s a decent jumper and I don’t see that part of his game as a concern. He’s still learning and there’s more to come from him.
I was slightly disappointed with Doesyourdogbite’s sixth in the Lanzarote, although on reflection he didn’t run too bad a race.
He seems really well at home and looks to have as good a chance as any in the Les Ambassadeurs Casino Handicap Hurdle.
Forthefunofit, who runs in the Racing UK Club Day Today Handicap Hurdle, has not been in the best of form and he’s back over hurdles after chasing didn’t work out for him. It might be a case of a watching brief with him.
Reine Des Miracles was second on her debut when with Micky Hammond and she now has her first run for Jonjo O’Neill in the Neptune Investment Management Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race.
She’s been going quite nicely at home but Ascot bumpers are always hard to win, so difficult to assess her chance.
Finally, I am glad Altior is going the novice route after he beat Fox Norton by 13 lengths last weekend. We lacked a bit of match practice and we will be much sharper than that but I am not saying we’d beat Altior next time, although we might finish a little closer.
I remember thinking when he won the Supreme that he had all the potential to be a fantastic chaser, and the way he jumped at Newbury showed he already is.