- Horse Racing
Cue Card lands Ascot Chase pot
Cue Card made every yard of the running to land the Betfair Ascot Chase.
Having seen his stamina ebb away in the King George VI Chase, the step down in trip paid off - although it was not cut and dried as Captain Chris appeared on the scene with a big challenge turning in but lost all chance with a shocking blunder at the second last.
Cue Card was sent to the front from flagfall by Joe Tizzard and his mount travelled with enthusiasm. He jumped well aside from one mistake at the end of the back straight. Cue Card and Captain Chris pulled away leaving the back straight, with Somersby and Finian's Rainbow beaten off.
Captain Chris looked like he was going best at the second last but he took off too far from the fence and lost all chance.
Cue Card was clear at the last and a fluent leap sealed the win in the Grade One event.
Rocky Creek continued his climb up the chasing ladder with a gritty victory in the Reynoldstown Novices' Chase. Stamina has looked to be the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding's forte and it served him well in the soft ground at Ascot.
Ruby Walsh was niggling away on occasions down the back straight, but his mount kept responding and he took the measure of Houblon Des Obeaux turning for home. He looked to have the race in safe keeping, but lost concentration running to the last and took no momentum over the fence. It gave Houblon Des Obeaux a second crack, but Rocky Creek found plenty when challenged.
"He's a baby and he needs time," Nicholls said. "I'm not in a mega rush with him. and like Silviniaco Conti I think he could be next year's horse, when we would maybe look at the Hennessy."
The concession of 9lbs to Far West proved beyond River Maigue in the Ironspine Charity Challenge 'national Hunt' Novices' Hurdle. Both horses are rated extremely highly and it was the Nicholl-Walsh combination who struck, with Far West making all and staying on well to keep his rival at bay.
Vino Griego followed up his Cheltenham win with victory in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Chase, but it was the performance of Cappa Bleu that caught the eye. Evan Williams' charge is being lined up for a tilt at the Grand National and he stayed on powerfully for second under the steadier of top weight.
Trainer Gary Moore, who saddled Vino Griego, was on the scoresheet at Haydock as Well Refreshed landed a gamble in the Grand National Trial. Well Refreshed did not travel well early on and made a string of mistakes, but he powered into the contention three from home and cleared right away for a ready success.
Up And Go put himself firmly in the Cheltenham picture with an all-the-way success in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle. Donald McCain's charge conceded weight all round, but he did not see another rival as he galloped the opposition into submission for an easy success.
"I was impressed at Wetherby, but even more impressed today," McCain said. "He's not the finished article and there's no great hurry (to go to Cheltenham) if we don't want to go."
Across The Bay handed Donald McCain a winner at Haydock when causing a shock in the Rendlesham Hurdle. Across The Bay is being prepared for the Grand National, but reverted to hurdles and made every yard of the running to score at 9/1 and deny joint favourite Trustan Times.
Zarkandar proved his well-being ahead of the Champion Hurdle with a cosy success in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton. Paul Nicholls' charge was well ahead of his rivals on ratings and the race panned out as expected as he travelled well, eased to the front two from home and was only pushed out by Daryl Jacob to hold Khyber Kim.