32Red ambassador Paddy Brennan with his thoughts on mounts at Haydock Park on Saturday.
He won this race first time out last season, and although his form tailed off towards the end of the campaign at least that means that he is only 3lb higher here. Everyone knows how well Tom’s horses have been going this season and 2m in deep in ground is ideal for this horse. He may have only won this race by ¾ length last season but the runner-up is now rated 10lb higher and we pulled 7 lengths clear of the third, so he is on a fair mark again.
Chase The Spud
I was very happy with his reappearance run on good to soft ground at Carlisle last month. He definitely needed it and I was very happy with the way he jumped, and he should have benefitted a lot for the run. He will love the heavy ground here, and it was very testing conditions the day he beat Fingal Bay over 3m at Exeter back in February. He looks fairly handicapped on that form, and if he lasts home over this extra half mile, I would be confident of a bold show. Fergal’s horses are in great nick, too.
The more I look and think about Cue Card’s reappearance in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby, the more I struggle to get away from the fact that it was the ground that beat him there.
He was never really comfortable on what was quick ground, and in hindsight of course I would love to ride the race again and ease and nurse him into the contest more. There is no getting away from that.
But I rode him aggressively, like the Gold Cup horse he is, and I thought he would still skip away from them up the straight.
That wasn’t to be, but there is nothing we can do about that now, and Saturday at Haydock is a lot more important.
He just wants safe ground, on the slow side of good at least, to be effective and he will certainly get that at Haydock where it looks like being heavy ground.
He loves Haydock and if there was one track made for him it is that course. When he is on song, he gives me so much control and he even blows me away at how good he is.
I know that a few people have mentioned his head carriage at Wetherby. When you are not comfortable then your head is only going to go one way and he didn’t fully let himself down there, but I certainly wouldn’t be in a rush to question him. The real positives from that race are the way that he jumped and travelled.
One thing is for sure, and that is if Cue Card turns up on his A-game then Coneygree is going to have to be at his Gold Cup-winning best, if not better, if he is going to beat us. And that is some ask first time up in what will clearly be very testing ground.
It promises to be a very gruelling race and I think having had a recent run will be a massive plus in the ground. You clearly have to respect Coneygree and he will look to stretch us from the front, but I am very positive about my chances.
When you are riding a horse as good as Cue Card – and this will be the first time I have sat on him since Wetherby, by the way – then you have to be.
Irish Cavalier and Menorah finished in front of us at Wetherby but they won’t have their ground on Saturday, but I can see why they are running Seeyouatmidnight.
However, the tempo of a top-class Grade 1 chase is far different from that of a Scottish Grand National and he has to improve the guts of 20lb to beat us if we are at our best.
I would probably be worrying more about Silviniaco Conti, myself. Like us, he has won this race twice, but we beat him by an easy 7 lengths here last season and I’d be more than hopeful of confirming that form.
In short, Cue Card does have questions to answer after Wetherby.
But if he is going to answer them anywhere, it will be at Haydock on soft ground with a run under his belt, getting a lead to tow him into the race.
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