Weekend racing round-up: Action from Ascot, Haydock and Navan
David Metcalf | November 23, 2015
Coral look at some of the key performances in a cracking weekend of action at Ascot, Haydock and Navan and the impact they have had on the ante post markets for the King George VI Chase and 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
Cue Card crushes Betfair Chase rivals with awesome display
Cue Card produced a superb display when cruising to victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday, and is now 3/1 joint-favourite with Coral for the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Colin Tizzard’s stable star raced with plenty of zest behind the pace-setting Silviniaco Conti before taking up the running on the bridle three from home.
Jockey Paddy Brennan sat motionless on the nine-year-old, as Noel Fehily through the kitchen sink at Silviniaco Conti.
Cue Card then stretched effortlessly clear approaching the final fence, and after a good jump won easing down by seven lengths.
It was a breathtaking display, and the breathing operation that Cue Card underwent in the summer has clearly worked the oracle.
To me this was the best performance of his career, and if turning up in the same form at Kempton he is going to take some stopping.
Although Cue Card has been unsuccessful in three previous attempts in the 3m context, he did finish a solid second in 2013 and now looks better than ever.
Should Cue Card prevail in the King George, the Jean Bishop-owned gelding will put himself in line for a crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March and the possibility of landing a £1m bonus attached to winning the three races this season by Jockey Club Racecourses.
Coral make Cue Card a 10/1 chance for Gold Cup glory.
Vautour battles to victory at Ascot
Vautour is Coral’s 3/1 joint-favourite for the King George after making a winning, if unimpressive, return to action at Ascot.
Last season’s stunning JLT Novices’ Chase winner was sent long odds-on but made hard work of beating Ptit Zig by 1 3/4 lengths.
Vautour was made to pull out all the stops by a rival rated 12lb his inferior, and although he jumped well in the main he did make one horrendous mistake and jumped to his left throughout.
Given that Vautour was also receiving 5lb from the runner-up it was a bit of an disappointing effort and Coral duly pushed him out from 5/2 to 3s for the Kempton showpiece on December 26th.
To me Vautour will have to improve immensely to triumph against the likes of Cue Card, Don Cossack and possibly Coneygree.
His tendency to jump left has to be a concern on a tight right-handed track, and although trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh were adamant he will come on a ton for the outing the performance was underwhelming in my book.
Coral have also eased Vautour out to 9/2 (from 4s) for the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup, although he still remains the market leader ahead of Conyegree and Don Cossack who share second favouritism on 6/1.
Douvan delivers on chasing debut at Navan
Douvan made a perfect start to his career over fences with an impressive display in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Beginners Chase at Navan on Sunday, and is now 6/4 favourite (from 2/1) with Coral for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
The French recruit won all four of his starts last season after joining trainer Willie Mullins, and they included stunning successes in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival and the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
After being sent off 2-11 favourite for his eagerly-awaited comeback and chasing debut, Douvan was sent straight to the lead by jockey Ruby Walsh and jumped with superb accuracy and speed throughout.
The five-year-old eased clear between the final two fences and despite not coming up as Walsh expected when asked for a big one at the final fence never looked like falling.
In the end Douvan came home hard on the bridle by 9 1/2 lengths without having to break sweat, and it was a performance which oozed class.
There was nothing not to like about the display and come next March he is clearly going to take all the beating in the Arkle if progressing as expected.
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