Cue Card victorious in Ascot Chase for Tizzards
Report: Ascot, Saturday
Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1) 2m5½f, 5yo+
CUE CARD made every yard of the running to land the Ascot Chase, surviving some jumping errors to press his Ryanair Chase claims at the Cheltenham Festival.
Trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by son Joe, Cue Card was made outright favourite for the Ryanair, with Paddy Power going 3-1 (from 5).
Run over nearly the Ryanair trip, the Ascot Chase is a solid trial for the Cheltenham Festival race, with Riverside Theatre taking in the contest en route to victory at the Festival last year.
Joe Tizzard set a decent gallop on the seven-year-old, reprising his front-running tactics on Cue Card that worked to good effect earlier in the season in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.
Some exuberant jumps down the back straight on the first circuit kept Cue Card in the lead, with Captain Chris second, while the returning Finian's Rainbow was fifth of the six runners.
Cue Card's first error of note was pitching on landing at the ditch round the side of the course on the final circuit, and Richard Johnson moved Captain Chris closer when Cue Card committed another error at four out.
The pair quickly drew away from the field on the home turn, with Somersby, Ghizao and Finian's Rainbow never landing a blow.
However at the second last it was Captain Chris who would make a mistake, stopping to a near walk with a shuddering error that cost him any chance of victory.
Tizzard was left in isolation to pop the last for victory by six lengths, with Captain Chris holding on for second.
Colin Tizzard said: "He is a damned good horse and Joe said he still had two or three more gears left when Captain Chris made his mistake.
"We'll leave it until the last minute but he is favourite for the Ryanair and 10-1 for the Queen Mother. That tells its own story but if Sprinter Sacre wasn't in the Champion Chase it would be very tempting."
Philip Hobbs confirmed that the Betfred Gold Cup remains the target for Captain Chris, as he said: "He jumped beautifully up to then and it was just unfortunate. I think he'll go for the Gold Cup, and the better the ground the better his chance. He stayed on well in the Ryanair a year ago, and he stayed on again in the King George."