Jack Milner previews Monday’s cards
Cue Card delivered in front of an expectant Ascot crowd at the weekend, claiming a 9th Grade 1 success in the Ascot Chase and was clipped into 5/1 from 6s with BetVictor for next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. It is a wonderful testament to both the horse and the Colin Tizzard yard that the now 11yo is still performing at the highest level almost 7 years after springing an upset in the 2010 Festival Bumper under Colin’s son Joe.
Cue Card remains undoubtedly the most popular NH horse in training and, despite being the supposed outsider of Colin Tizzard’s three Gold Cup contenders, will surely get the vote amongst casual racegoers over King George winner Thistlecrack (6/4) and Hennessy and Welsh National winner Native River (4/1) in the feature on the fourth and final day of next month’s festival.
Cheltenham Gold Cup prices from BetVictor; Non Runner Money Back
Native River 5/1
Cue Card 5/1
It was likewise a great weekend for trainer David Pipe with Vieux Lion Rouge the new 14/1 from 20s favourite with BetVictor for Aintree success after landing the Grand National Trial at Haydock. The team at Pond House remain in good nick and I’m keen to see Martaboat (4.35) go for the yard at Lingfield. The selection made a promising debut for new connections after running in a trio of point-to-points in his native Ireland, finishing fifth on his rules debut at Ffos Las. He is bred to appreciate this afternoon’s forecast testing conditions and can reward each-way support under 3lb conditional David Noonan.
Despite being nearly old enough to vote I think Big Fella Thanks (5.05) retains plenty of his old ability and should take all the beating in the finale. The now 15-y-o was recently second in a point-to-point and looks well-placed to land the concluding Hunter Chase for the Georges.
I was disappointed with Krakatoa King (4.00) last week at Towcester, finishing second after being a well-punted favourite beforehand, and hope he can go much closer in the feature Handicap Chase over three and a half miles. The selection has placed in two of his three starts since joining the Kerry Lee yard, but still has relatively few miles on the clock and should relish this afternoon’s stiff test of stamina.
The last time Capilla (2.50) fell to a mark of 96 in the handicap he bolted-up by 25l over course and distance and must go close for the pair of Evan Williams and Adam Wedge. He has yet to make the frame in any of his four starts since returning this season however, goes well in testing conditions and is aided by a first-time visor.
They go at Carlisle where a field of six go to post for a cracking 3m Handicap Chase and Blakemount (4.10) fancied to follow-up his recent course success under the excellent Danny Cook. Sue Smith’s smart staying chaser looked like a potential star when narrowly beaten over hurdles as a novice but struggled thereafter and tumbled down the weights to a mark of 129 before battling well to score at the track just 11 days ago. Providing he turns up in a similar mood, then I doubt a 7lb rise at the weights will stop him.
The pair can double-up with Blottos (5.15) in the finale for owner Sir Trevor Hemmings in the 2m Bumper. The well-bred sort will make a nice staying chaser in time but has already hinted at ability in bumpers, finishing third at Newcastle and Sedgefield, and should give her running once more.
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