Betfair Ascot Chase
Grade 1, Ascot 15:35
£150,000 added,
5yo plus,
2m 5f 8y, Class 1  
Saturday 18th February 2017

1 Cue Card 4/9
2 Shantou Flyer 22/1
3 Royal Regatta 11/1
6 ran Distances: 15l, 3¾l, nk
Time: 5m 26.00s (slow by 18.00s)

Cue Card lives up to expectations, winning by a distance

Cue Card
© Racehorse Photos
Cue Card

It was a ninth top level victory for Colin Tizzard's remarkable chaser who is now set to take his chance in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup next month.

Richard Johnson set out to make all aboard Royal Regatta but Paddy Brennan always had the pair in his sights and asserted in the straight.

Royal Regatta couldn't go with Cue Card thereafter and paid the price for his exertions as Shantou Flyer stayed on from miles back to claim second.

Sky Bet trimmed the winner to 6/1 from 7s for next month's staying crown.

Tizzard, who is 10/1 with William Hill to saddle the first three home in the Gold Cup, said: "It's nice to see his well-being, really.

"After the last race (second to stablemate Thistlecrack in the King George) he was a bit wrong and had a big, fat leg and we said he wasn't right, but he has been perfect all the way through.

"He is 11 and you wonder 'how many times can he keep doing this?' but he is back again. Today he jumped beautifully and he destroyed them. It was everything you want to see and more.

"Paddy Brennan was instrumental, he said it would not hurt to go back to two miles five, as they go a fast pace and it will be Cheltenham Festival pace and instead of having three months off you can take this in, then back off him a bit.

"In the ring he looked as well as ever and on form he needed to do that. He has been a brilliant horse for a long time. I spoke to Jean (Bishop, owner) and it is her ambition to win the Gold Cup."

He added: "The plan is to run Cue Card, Thistlecrack and Native River in the Gold Cup, and possibly Theatre Guide as well."

Having watched her star horse take a tumble in the Gold Cup 12 months ago when still full of running and in search of a £1million bonus, owner Jean Bishop is now hoping he can put the record straight in just under four weeks' time.

She said: "I'd hoped he would do this and that is Cue Card for you. I'm nervous every day I go racing. I get nervous going to Plumpton!

"At Aintree last year they said that was his best performance, but he seems to be getting better and better. He doesn't know he is 11 and you wouldn't know he is.

"His jumping was very good and I always let Paddy Brennan ride the race how he wants to and he could not have done it better.

"I hope he can win the Gold Cup and it would mean everything - it would be like winning the FA Cup. When you have horses like this, this is what you dream of."

Equally as glowing as Milborne Port handler Tizzard was Gold Cup-winning rider Brennan.

He said: "It was a great performance. The ground is really dead. It was hard to know what pace we were going.

"When I looked round after the last I thought we were only two or three lengths clear - that sums up what a great horse he is. I knew this trip was on the sharp side, but he was brilliant.

"He's been massive for my career - he's changed my life over the last couple of years."

Brennan said: "It was a great performance. The ground is really dead. It was hard to know what pace we were going.

"When I looked round after the last I thought we were only two or lengths clear - that sums up what a great horse he is. I knew this trip was on the sharp side, but he was brilliant.

"He's been massive for my career - he's changed my life over the last couple of years."

Betfair Ascot Chase
£150,000 added, 5yo plus, 2m 5f 8y, Class 1
6 ran
Going: Soft, Good to Soft in places

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Cue Card 4/9f P J Brennan
11-7
C L Tizzard 11
2nd 15 Shantou Flyer (IRE) 22/1 Adam Wedge
11-7
Miss R Curtis 7
3rd Royal Regatta (IRE) 11/1 R Johnson
11-7
P J Hobbs 9
4th nk Taquin Du Seuil (FR) 4/1 Aidan Coleman
11-7
Jonjo O'Neill 10
5th 5 Irish Cavalier (IRE) 14/1 Jonathan Moore
11-7
Miss R Curtis 8
6th 24 Traffic Fluide (FR) 20/1 J E Moore
11-7
G L Moore 7

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