Cue Card: pings the last under Paddy Brennan at Ascot
PICTURE:Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Collated by Tony McFadden 7:00PM 19 FEB 2017
In our new Sunday column, we take a sideways look at the best and worst moments from the weekend’s racing
Performance of the weekend
It may have been a substandard renewal of the Betfair Ascot Chase but racegoers were treated to truly top-class performance as Cue Card pulverised his rivals, registering a 15-length victory which prompted bookmakers to cut him to 6-1 (from 8-1) for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Cue Card may be 11 years old now, but he has clearly lost none of his enthusiasm and very little – if anything – in terms of ability as he put in a foot-perfect performance, featuring some prodigious leaps, to land a ninth win at the highest level.
Heroic effort in defeat
Royal Regatta, who paid the price for valiantly attempting to serve it up to Cue Card, was a contender, but this time the nod has to go to Flintham, who agonisingly lost out in a photo finish to Bigbadjohn in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase having produced the kind of gutsy, bold-jumping, front-running display you may expect from a relative of Carruthers and Coneygree. Flintham may lack the size and scope of his Gold Cup-winning half-brother, but he is brave as a lion and attacked his fences with rare abandon, fending off all comers until picked up in the shadows of the post. Heartbreaking.
Flintham (cheekpieces) jumps the last in front of Bigbadjohn
Underwhelming race of the weekend
Far too often Graded novice chases can end up as uncompetitive, small-field affairs of little interest to each-way punters. How refreshing then to see the Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan attract eight runners, all of whom could be given some sort of chance. What promised to be an intriguing puzzle quickly unravelled, as Acapella Bourgeois was allowed to establish a huge advantage under an enterprising Roger Loughran and never looked in the slightest danger, coming home 32 lengths clear of his closest rival. At least the race for minor honours was a bit more interesting.
Tweet of the weekend
Cheltenham may be approaching but Flat racing fans will already be counting down to the Betway Lincoln, which is under six weeks away. Those eagerly compiling horses to follow lists might want to make a note of First Eleven, who is a son of Frankel, a half-brother to Kingman and in training with John Gosden. No pressure!
Shock of the weekend
Opinion was generally split among punters as to whether giving Ch’tibello 4lb and a one-length beating in the Kingwell represented a dent to Yanworth’s Champion Hurdle claims or a perfectly respectable performance on the back of an interrupted preparation. However, the traders at BetVictor certainly took a view, sticking their head above the parapet by offering 7-1 (non-runner, no bet) for the Champion when his price ranged from between 3-1 and 9-2 with other firms. Bookmakers take a lot of stick for trimming ante-post prices when a horse completes a straightforward task, so credit where it is due to BetVictor.
Picture of the weekend
St Moritz: the racing on the snow always produces spectacular images