Cue Card and Paddy Brennan in the Betfair Chase. Photo by Racing Post
Contender: Cue Card (King’s Theatre x Wicked Crack)
Race: Ryanair Chase
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
Owner: Mrs Jean R Bishop
Jockey: Paddy Brennan
If there was any horse that people wished to have a fairytale ending, it would be Cue Card. Across the world people will be hoping that the 12 year old son of King’s Theatre will be able to roll back the years and win for third time at the Cheltenham festival.
His first win at Cheltenham came in Champion Bumper on his second appearance, having been sent off as a long shot at 40/1, when he was only four. Ever since then Cue Card has become a staple of British racing, coming back every year to try and add to his list of major wins.
It would be easy to agree that if any horse deserves to win a race at the Cheltenham festival it would be Cue Card. He has raced his way into the hearts of many, even having fans across the globe. All will be hoping that Cue Card can cement himself in history and add to his amazing roster of wins.
This roster of wins includes a handful of hurdling wins before his trainer, Colin Tizzard, turned him to chasing. Since then his career has only gone upwards, featuring wins in the Haldon Gold Cup, which he won in 2012 by an impressive twenty six lengths, two wins in the Ascot Chase, winning in 2013 by six lengths and in 2017and the Ryanair Chase in 2013. His star spangled list of wins also includes three wins in the Betfair Chase, in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
However, after a second fall in the Gold Cup in 2017 and a 57 lengths defeat to Bristol De Mai in the 2017 rendition of the Betfair Chase, many called for Cue Card’s retirement, stating that he owes nothing to Colin Tizzard’s team. Nevertheless Tizzard perservered with his horse, and having seen a return to form last time out in the Ascot where he came 2nd, he looks right on target for his race at Cheltenham.
The plan was to go for the Gold Cup once again, but having rethought their decision, Tizzard’s team decided that Cue Card would have the highest chance of a win in the Ryanair Chase on the Thursday.
Following a fall in the Charlie Hall Chase, Cue Card’s faithful jockey was taken off the horse to see if a change in jockey would change the horse. With his new jockey, Harry Cobden aboard Cue Card ran in the Betfair Chase, but as aforemention he finished 57 lengths behind the winner Bristol De Mai. Paddy Brennan was given back the ride last time out, and produced one of Cue Card’s most convincing pieces of form this season.
As well as jockey troubles, and issues with the pesky third last fence in the Gold Cup, Cue Card has seen a fair share of health issues and injuries. In the 2013/14 season Cue Card appeared to have a muscle injury and missed Cheltenham that season. Subsequent x-rays revealed that he had actually sustained a stress fracture to his pelvis, ruling him out for the rest of the season. In the 2015/16 season Tizzard reported that he had solved the problems with a trapped epiglottis that had plagued his the previous season.
But these injuries aside, Cue Card has become a symbol for horses of consistency, thanks to him sustaining an amazing career over the eight years he has been racing for
Thanks to Cue Card Colin Tizzard now has a thriving stable full of class horses in the North of Dorset.
Should Cue Card manage to win the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham a lot of tears will be shed, including but not limited to Colin Tizzard himself. If he does win it is likely that it will be his last race, and if not he may go to Aintree for the Betfred Bowl Chase.
Does he have a chance?
Although some will say otherwise, there is a good chance that Cue Card could come out of the Ryanair on top. He does face some stiff competition in the form of Un de Sceaux, a French-bred Autre Que Pur-Sang. He won the race last year, and is looking to repeat the feat this year. The Willie Mullins trained ten year old has been looking on peak form for the entire season, so Cue Card will have to fight as hard as he can.
He may not be the favourite on paper, but the hearts of every racing fan across the country, and even the world, will be hoping that Cue Card can pull off the win and end his star-studded career with a bang.