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By Dylan Jenear ValueChecker

Cue Card Out to Enhance Reputation at Cheltenham

All eyes will be on the extremely exciting novice Cue Card when the Colin Tizzard-trained gelding bids to maintain his unbeaten status in the Grade 2 Cheltenham Collection Sharp Novices’ Hurdle (1.50) at Prestbury Park this afternoon.

Cue Card

Cue Card

Winner of both of his starts in bumpers last term, including the Champion Bumper at the Festival here in March, Cue Card sauntered home on his seasonal reappearance and first start over hurdles at Aintree last month, leading connections to consider a tilt at this season’s Champion Hurdle. Much will depend on how the son of King’s Theatre progresses between now and the spring. He is already clear favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, should connections decide not to throw him to the lions in the Champion come March.

The four-year-old faces some promising types in this afternoon’s contest, with Philip Hobbs’ Dunraven Storm next best in the betting. The Presenting gelding won two of his three starts in bumpers, his sole defeat being in the Champion Bumper won by Cue Card, and has looked a very smart prospect in winning his two outings over timber this term, following up his Exeter win with a taking victory at Ascot where he proved four lengths too strong for Recession Proof. Likely to improve further, Dunraven Storm should ensure that Cue Card’s credentials are put to the test.

Irish raiders have won two renewals of this race since 2000 and the Emerald Isle is represented by Ballyadam Rock and Paul Nolan’s Far Away So Close this time. The former, trained by Terence O’Brien, looks the stronger of the two. The son of Champion Hurdle winner Alderbrook has won four and been placed in as many of his nine starts in this sphere to date. He proved that he is up to graded status when chasing home Oilily in a Grade 3 at Tipperary last time and should give it a good shot from the front.

King Of The Night is also an intriguing contender. Successful in two of his four starts in bumpers, Paul Nicholls’ representative made a very pleasing start to life over timber when cruising clear to beat Fiulin by nine lengths over C&D last month and should not be underestimated, despite taking a marked step up in class today.

Cue Card is likely to prove a tough nut to crack, but his odds are likely to be pretty prohibitive. For punters seeking a value-option, at a double-figure price an each-way bet on Ballyadam Rock is suggested. He generally hurdles fluently, won't mind the drying ground, and the fact that he's won over further trip-wise is a plus gien the testing nature of this track.

Recommendation: Ballyadam Rock (each-way)


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