Cue Card breezes to Betfair Chase victory and keeps eye on £1m prize
Cue Card produced an electrifying performance to win the Betfair Chase at Haydock for the third time in four years and put himself in line for a second crack at a £1million bonus.
Colin Tizzard's big-race veteran went agonisingly close to scooping the mammoth pot offered by Jockey Club Racecourses last season when falling three out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup - when still holding every chance - after winning the Betfair and the King George VI Chase.
The Stephen's Day showpiece at Kempton will again be the next stop for Cue Card after he defeated Coneygree, the 2015 Gold Cup hero, which went down all guns blazing on his first start for 377 days.
Coneygree made a brave attempt to lead all the way under Richard Johnson, who was replacing the injured Nico de Boinville, but he ultimately had to play second fiddle to Cue Card, which had fitness on his side.
Paddy Brennan was always happy on Cue Card, which had benefited greatly for his reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby three weeks earlier.
Once he sent Cue Card to the front four out, the 15/8 favourite put the race to bed with authority and scored by 15 lengths. Coneygree was 13 lengths ahead of French challenger Vezelay with another dual Betfair winner, Silviniaco Conti, fourth.
"The horse did have a good blow (after the Charlie Hall) and we saw that afterwards," said Tizzard.
"He does like this ground - he sort of floats on top. He didn't have a hard race at all, did he?
"I'm just chuffed for the horse really, to keep on doing it. We've got one or two other good ones and (people think) with Cue Card maybe time is catching up, but it's not - he's every bit as good as he's ever been.
"He's got the best place in the stable, he can see everyone and he deserves it - he's our star.
"He made it look easy today and it's fantastic for everyone concerned. He enjoys his life, he enjoys racing and wouldn't turn a hair coming here. He wants to be here at the races.
"We all knew what Coneygree was going to do. He's had a year off, but he's a fantastic horse."
Brennan was pleased to erase the memory of that defeat at Wetherby where the Cue Card team admitted getting the riding tactics wrong.
"Colin and all his team at home had him in some form. I hacked him to the start and I knew then things were going to be so much different (to Wetherby) today," said the jockey.
"Colin stood up for me at Wetherby, but he'd no need to. Things were just a bit quick for him and it was a combination of a lot of things.
"Today he was the Cue Card I know, at Wetherby I never had that. When he's in the form he was today you can ride him any way you want - he's different class."
Sunday Indo Sport