A very disappointing turn out for such a prestigious race, it looks on paper a big match up between stable mate’s CUE CARD and Thistlecrack. I think Cue Card may have missed the Gold Cup boat, it was looking to be his year back in March until crashing out of the race three from home. He showed his class when putting Don Poli in his place at Aintree when taking the Bowl Chase by nine lengths. Don Poli got revenge in Ireland when Cue Card could only manage fourth behind Carlingford Lough in the Irish Gold Cup.
Cue Card was then beaten at Wetherby on his seasonal debut, three lengths behind Irish Cavalier. He was only beaten the final 100 yards and stepping back up to three and a quarter miles, a trip which saw him out-battle the ill-fated Vautour here last year, was a tough and gutsy performance. Blowing away Coneygree the way he did by fifteen lengths in the Betfair Chase was impressive, he was not given a hard race under Paddy Brennan who gets on so well with the horse they have become inseparable.
We all remember Hunt Ball, who rose to fame through the handicap ranks to go on and win in fine style at Cheltenham, a horse that came out of nowhere off a mark of 69 to a winning mark 142 in just four months. We know Thistlecrack is far superior to that and currently runs off a mark of 153, lets not forget he was a 174 rated hurdler so there is a lot to come from this eight year old who has hit the scene at the right time. The ground will definitely not inconvenience him in the slightest but to win he will have to burn off Cue Card on the second circuit. Cue Card has spat the dummy out before and tends to run lazily through his races so we will have to see how it pans out.
Josses Hill comes into this off the back of a brace of wins with one of them being here at Kempton in a graduation chase over two and a half miles. His already thrashed Tea For Two at Huntingdon by six lengths with More of That back in third a further three lengths. For me Jossies Hill is more of a speed horse, the Supreme Novices runner up has not exceeded two mile five in his career, this will stretch his stamina to the limit, but the way he won last time there is no doubt the trip should suit, its just a big step up to take on the likes of Cue Card and Thistlecrack.
At the end of the day I love Thistlecrack to bits, a horse that has come through the ranks quickly and has been given the opportunity to gain plenty jumping experience, but he is taking on a serious Grade 1 winner in Cue Card and I feel on the day it is best to go with the proven horse.
CUE CARD : 4pt Win @ 5/4 (BOG)