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Cue Card stakes Gold Cup claim as Bobs Worth fails to fire

Cue Card’s stunning performance in Haydock’s Betfair Chase on Saturday has elevated Colin Tizzard’s star chaser to 5/1 joint second-favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Ridden by Joe Tizzard, the front-runner jumped impeccably and was still going best as they turned in for home.

Both Silviniaco Conti and Dynaste tried to launch challenges over the second-last fence but neither could respond to the finishing kick of the winner.

Cue Card always races with plenty of enthusiasm and the trainer was confident beforehand that the seven-year-old would leave his seasonal debut – when he was third behind Somersby – well behind him.

Bet on Cue Card to win Gold Cup at 5/1 

The son of King’s Theatre certainly did that and the way he saw out the three mile trip suggests that he won’t be campaigned at any shorter for a while.

That has had a knock-on effect for the Cheltenham Festival markets as it had previously been thought that he would most likely head back to defend his crown in the Ryanair Chase.

Tizzard’s ace really has had a remarkable career, especially when we consider that he is only seven years old.

In 2010 he won the Champion Bumper before finishing fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle the following season.

Sent over fences, he was then a gallant second to Sprinter Sacre in the Arkle before last season’s emphatic Ryanair win.

He is now 5/1 for the Gold Cup and although some experts are yet to be convinced that he is a serious challenger for the race, the horses that he has beaten suggests that he warrants the utmost respect.

Bet on Bobs Worth to win Gold Cup at 4/1

Nicky Henderson’s Bobs Worth, who won the Gold Cup in 2013, was quietly backed for Saturday’s race but the 15/8 favourite could never land a blow and in the end he was beaten by 40 lengths.

It’s worth remembering that he was eased when jockey Barry Geraghty knew he wasn’t going to feature in the finish.

It was a poor run but there are extenuating circumstances.

The ground was soft and although his Gold Cup win came on testing going, he has mainly raced on better ground.

His Cheltenham record reads 1-1-1-1-1-1 and at 4/1 he is still the most likely winner of the March showpiece.

Bet on Silviniaco Conti to win Gold Cup at 10/1

Silviniaco Conti travelled well for a long way at Haydock and Paul Nicholls will have been pleased with his effort, especially as the Ditcheat handler expected him to come on a lot for the run.

The combination of better rivals and a change of track (they raced on the more testing flat track rather than the sharper chase course) meant he was unable to repeat last year’s victory in the race.

However it was a strong performance to finish third and he is now 10/1 for The Gold Cup.

He was still moving well when falling at the third-last fence in the 2013 renewal and, although he is yet to prove his stamina for the 3m 2f trip, it should be within range.

The other horse to stake a claim for the prize in March was Dynaste who finished second and seemed to shrug off his relative inexperience compared to his rivals.

David Pipe’s grey was another who travelled well into the race and he could further stake a claim for Cheltenham if taking on Cue Card in next month’s King George VI Chase at Kempton.

He is 12/1 at present for the Gold Cup but won the Feltham Chase on the Boxing Day card last season and would surely shorten further if he was to run well at the track 12 months on.

Bet on Dynaste to win Gold Cup at 12/1

Former Gold Cup winner Long Run was fourth on Saturday and ran well, but it appears that there are a bunch of horses which might be leaving him behind.

He is now 20/1 for the Gold Cup but is no back-number just yet. Elsewhere on Saturday Al Ferof made a pleasing return to action, although he didn’t need to be his best to prevail in a two-runner Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot.

Paul Nicholls’ ace had been off the track for a year but showed no signs of rustiness and jumped the last two fences as if he had just joined the race.

It’s worth remembering that he beat Cue Card in the Supreme Novices’ back in 2011 and although he is yet to prove his stamina for the Gold Cup trip, a bold run in the King George would see his current odds of 16/1 contract significantly.

The son of Dom Alco is only eight and could still have his best years ahead of him.