When did I know I was going to win the Betfair Chase on Cue Card?
Going to the start.
That may seem a bold and arrogant thing to say, and some may say stupid, but I genuinely knew – and I really am being honest and genuine here – that he would take the world of beating when I hacked him down to the start.
It was the first time I had sat on him since the Charlie Hall, and that immediately answered any questions I may have had about him after the Wetherby run.
It was simply the ground and the way he felt on it. I knew then that it was 100 per cent the quick surface that was the reason for his below-par effort at Wetherby. Nothing else. It was heavy ground yesterday but it was wet, fresh and loose and it was fine for him.
In three months’ time, the track won’t be able to take that amount of rain so well, and it would be very hard work, but yesterday it was fine.
I don’t know if I felt any more pressure than I usually do going into the race – there is always a degree of pressure and expectation when you ride top-class, and public, horses like Cue Card – but this was a very important race for the owner, trainer and myself.
I just couldn’t get my head around his Wetherby defeat. All things considered, I thought he could do everything wrong that day, and still win the race, so the loss was a real head-scratcher.
But when the ground is on the easy side of good, and softer, then Cue Card is a hard horse to beat. Very hard.
Yesterday, I was again in front plenty soon enough. It was great that Coneygree was there to take me along but I was conscious of wanting to be within striking distance of him going onto the second circuit. He is a Gold Cup winner, after all. I didn’t want to give him an easy lead throughout.
He ran a hell of a race for a long way but my horse was going so well that I got to the front earlier than I wanted to. But I let him go forward, and he just ran away from them.
I wear my heart on my sleeve, and this was a massive day for me. I have won a Gold Cup and big races before but I was hoping and praying that Cue Card could deliver what he was capable of, and give us all something to look forward to for the rest of the reason.
And he didn’t disappoint, did he?
So all roads now lead to the 32Red King George on Boxing Day. And, as Colin (Tizzard) said yesterday, there is now only one horse than can win the Jockey Club’s £1m bonus for winning the Betfair Chase, 32Red King George and the Timico Gold Cup.
32Red King George Current Prices:
7/4 Cue Card
8/1 Vroum Vroum Mag
9/1 Valseur Lido
20/1 Tea For Two
33/1 Bristol De Mai
Get the latest prices at 32Red Sport.