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Front of the Cue for Ryanair Chase winner at Cheltenham Festival
FANTASTIC jumping and an inspired piece of front running propelled Cue Card (7-2) to Ryanair Chase glory at the Cheltenham Festival.
Colin Tizzard’s hero set the pace from the start, winged his fences at a furious gallop, and wore down serious opposition, including the likes of Champion Court, First Lieutenant and For Non Stop.
That quartet pushed clear with the 12-year-old Albertas Run, twice a winner of this two-mile and five-furlong test of speed, already pulled up by jockey AP McCoy.
Cue Card, ridden by the trainer’s son Joe, forged several lengths clear just before the second last and he jumped the final fence magnificently as he ran out a nine-length winner over First Lieutenant (2-1 fav).
That horse, owned by the sponsors, had been re-routed from the Gold Cup for this Grade 1 contest, but had no answer to Cue Card’s brilliance.
The trainer said: “There is a lot of pressure when you have these really nice horses and he did everything we thought he would. They went a true gallop and he proved he can stay now – it was a beautiful ride from Joe.
“He jumped fast and fluently and you have seen him at his best. He was always coasting and Joe always seemed more confident than I was.”
Tizzard junior added: “He’s a top class horse – he’s been to four Festivals and was second in last year’s Arkle and he’s never failed to reach the winner’s enclosure.
“It’s not just him, but certain horses thrive off this environment, this atmosphere. He walks around the paddock here with a bit of a swagger and enjoys every moment of it. All his best form is on this track.”
Benefficient silenced punters when stunning Dynaste to win the opening Jewson Novices’ Chase.
The 20-1 shot, trained by Ireland’s Tony Martin, had made plenty of the early running in the Grade 2 two and a half mile race and was three and a quarter lengths too good for the hot favourite.
Trainer David Pipe had switched Dynaste, one of the most impressive novice chasers of the season and the heavily backed 11-8 chance, from the RSA Chase to the Jewson and jockey Tom Scudamore tried to take control of the race three fences from the finish.
But he couldn’t shake off the Irish Arkle winner Benefficient, ridden by Bryan Cooper, and simply had no answer after being headed when jumping the last.
Cooper said: “I can’t believe it. He is such a tough horse. He never missed a fence.
“We put a hood on him and it just gave me a bit more control.”
Martin added: “Before the race I was nervous because I thought he was a really live chance and I couldn’t see him out of the places.
“Dynaste was the only horse I was really concerned about and luckily enough that was the way it worked out.”
Elsewhere, Holywell continued the run of big priced handicap winners at the 2013 Festival when winning the Pertemps Final at 25-1 for rider Richie McLernon and trainer Jonjo O’Neill.
The theme continued as Carrickboy (50-1) struck in the Byrne Group Plate as West Witton trainer Ferdy Murphy’s Divers was well down the field in 12th.
Loose Preformer, trained by Nawton’s David O’Meara, was totally outclassed in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup, where Same Difference (16-1) got the nod ahead of Super Duty in a photo-finish.