Cue Card overcomes stamina fears to take Betfair Chase
Cue Card dispelled stamina doubts as he led from pillar-to-post to win a top-class renewal of the Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Colin Tizzard's Ryanair Chase hero had only run over three miles once before, in last season's King George where he made early mistakes in heavy ground.
Allowed an easy lead over three miles and a furlong on this occasion, Joe Tizzard was able to dictate his own pace at the head of affairs, and once he had burned Roi Du Mee off he jumped with aplomb.
Last year's winner Silviniaco Conti looked a big danger three from home, as did Dynaste, but Tizzard had still not asked for everything and after jumping the last Cue Card (9-1) sprinted clear to win by four and a half lengths from Dynaste.
The big disappointment of the race was the Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth, who dropped away tamely.
Colin Tizzard said: "It's almost brought a tear to my eye. Joe was real coy until about three out, he just sat there and never moved.
"He jumped better than he ever has. He was on his game today, that's for sure.
"It would have been easier staying over two miles as that is where his form was and we were looking at Ascot today with two runners thinking 'why are we here', but this proves he does stay.
"To win these big races you've got to be right on the day. It's a long time until March but he was dead on his job today.
"There's plenty of water to go under the bridge before March. I assume he'll go to he King George next and then I'm sure he'll end up at Cheltenham in one of the races.
"It's everybody's dream to have a horse good enough to run in the Gold Cup and I'm sure unless we get beat by stayers next time that will be on his compass.
"Everyone says Champion Bumper horses will be three milers but because he has so much pace we've never done it."
Joe Tizzard said: "He was brilliant today, he was a different horse from Exeter (third in Haldon Gold Cup), he was bang on the money and proved what he is.
"He finds things so easy, he's brilliant to ride, the pace he's got is lovely in a race like this, we've been running him over the wrong trip!
"He's got that gear which all the best horses have, it's so nice he's proved he gets the trip and it makes him a real Gold Cup horse."