Cue Card is ready and more than fit enough to win the Charlie Hall on Saturday. Cue Card’s form from last season is that of a proven Gold Cup horse. In my opinion, the other horses have to step up to prove that.
His preparation for this race has been very smooth. I rode him in a racecourse gallop last week, and I had schooled him on two mornings before that. I was like a kid in a sweet shop on both occasions as he felt unbelievable, like a 4yo.
And we all know what he achieved last season. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined he would do what he did.
Going into this race last season, I didn’t know what to expect as his form had tailed off so badly towards the end of the previous campaign.
But the feel he gave me throughout the race was unbelievable; he travelled so well. And when he had a blow between the last two, he landed off the back of the last and picked up again.
And what made that win all the more impressive was that Colin Tizzard’s horses were needing the run at the time, and that isn’t the case this season.
The Betfair Chase win was a breathtaking performance. He loves Haydock, having won the race before and the course plays to his strengths, but the manner of his win there had me thinking for the first time that I could be on a Gold Cup winner. It was mindblowing. It was a privilege to be on the horse.
And when he beat Vautour at Kempton, he had to show different, battling qualities to win. I had to go after Ruby earlier than I would have liked as he was going so well in front, but he showed the heart of a lion to get up.
Of course, everything changed in a split second in the Gold Cup. He had just come alive but I went from hacking on the bridle to being on the floor in an instant. You can never be sure but I will always believe that I would have won.
He still went on to win his third Grade 1 win at Aintree after that – he was over the top at Punchestown, pure and simple – and he is just an unbelievable horse to be associated with.
I don’t agree with comments like “he will improve for the run” when it is not the case – a lot of people use that as a ready-made excuse in case they are beaten – and, as I said earlier, I think he is plenty straight enough to win here.
You always respect the opposition. Blaklion is an RSA winner, but I think Dynaste, who we beat in this race last year and is getting 10lb from us, could be the one to give us most to do.
I also ride Royal Vacation in the 3m novices’ chase at 4.30. I rode him to win a novice hurdle at this meeting last season and he won twice more, ending the campaign being rated 129 over hurdles.
He made his chase debut for me over 2m3f at Fontwell earlier in the month and I was more than happy with his second to As De Mee there. The winner is a very smart chaser on his day and, although unproven over 3m, I think this longer trip will suit my horse a lot better.
This race has cut up quite a bit at the overnight stage and although his three rivals are decent horses in their own right – especially Zeroeshadesofgrey, who is probably the one to beat – I think he goes into the race with a winning chance.
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