Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Cue Card looks one to savour without a bet

Paddy Brennan will be hoping to partner Cue Card to another victory at Wertherby this afternoon. Picture: Getty Images
Paddy Brennan will be hoping to partner Cue Card to another victory at Wertherby this afternoon. Picture: Getty Images

A few years back, the brother jumped into a taxi in Bray after a night out at the Harbour Bar and asked to be taken to our home town of Ballybrack, a journey of just over three and-a-half miles.

He was unfortunate on two fronts; firstly, he'd a few jars on him and fell asleep in the back of the cab, and secondly, the taxi driver was unfamiliar with the area and thought he had asked to take him to Ballybough.

As our Dublin readers will know, Ballybough is in the north inner city, some 11 miles away from the 'Brack and to compound the misery, when he woke up he only had a score left in his wallet, which he had to give to the taxi driver for the pointless journey.

I wasn't a happy man getting out of bed when I got a call to pick him up at two in the morning, although my old man had a much better experience when confusing the two town names when he placed a bet on the Charlie Hall Chase back in 2003.

When my father came back into the local bar having nipped out to the bookmakers, I asked him what he'd backed and he told me "Ballybrack Rasher". I checked the listings and grinned as I told him he'd made a mistake.

The actual horse, I said, was named 'Ballybough Rasher' and that it was a 40/1 rag which had no hope of winning.

But every horse has some sort of chance I suppose, and the smile was very soon wiped off my face when Howard Johnson's ten-year-old crossed the line in front. In fairness to the bookmakers, they paid out without question and, in fairness to the old man, he bought me a few pints out of the winnings.

I've long since learned that almost anything can happen in racing and I never get quite so smug these days, but I highly doubt there'll be any 40/1 shocks in this year's renewal (3.20 Wetherby) for which the irrepressible Cue Card is set to go off as favourite around 8/11.

This time last year, I avoided Colin Tizzard's gelding as he hadn't won in the best part of two years and didn't seem to be the same horse after a pelvic fracture.

Instead, I backed Dynaste - but I certainly didn't begrudge Cue Card the win and he went on to prove he is just as good if not better than the old Cue Card when winning the Betfair Chase and then the King George.

I'm never happy when I see a horse falling but I had a big bet on Don Cossack in the Gold Cup and before Cue Card took a spill, he traded odds-on in-running on Betfair. It's unfortunate that Don Cossack picked up an injury after the Gold Cup and fingers crossed he can race again.


Whether he would have had enough to take on Gordon Elliott's stable star up the hill we'll never know, but it certainly would have been close and we were surely robbed of a great finish.

His subsequent Punchestown flop is forgiven as it came too soon after Aintree - but the price is very restrictive today and this is one of those races to be enjoyed for what it is. I'll cheer him on this afternoon without a bet.

A little earlier at UK racing's HQ, Curlew River is tipped to land the EBF Stallions Prestige Vehicles Maiden Fillies' Stakes (1.50 Newmarket) and is expected to go off somewhere around 7/4.

Granted, this race is a bit of a guessing game with four of the 13 runners as yet unraced, and the rest having competed just once (bar How's Lucy which has two career runs under the belt).

But I wouldn't let that put you off backing the favourite here and the market has been a good guide in these Newmarket fillies' maidens this year.

In fact, there have been ten winning favourites from 20 runners in 2016 and had you stuck a tenner on the jolly each time, you'd have €92 in your back pocket today.

Trained by Mark Johnston, Curlew River was backed as low as 1/6 in-running on her debut here just over a week ago but somehow got chinned at the finish and ended up a head-second to the favourite White Chocolate.

It was a promising start though, and the experience will have done some good so I expect she'll go one better today.


With odds of 6/1 yesterday evening, this week's each-way selection is not exactly an outsider but I still reckon that price is a steal for Greenside in the ten-runner Handicap (3.30).

Fair enough, Henry Candy's gelding has not been seen since April so we take it on trust that he's fit and well but the son of Dubawi is on a nice mark at 87, having been dropped 1lb for finishing fourth of 12 runners in a Nottingham handicap.

Around a year ago, he was very impressive at this course when he absolutely ran riot off a mark of 76 to win by five lengths - but the encouraging thing is that the race came on the back of an 11-month break, so I'm not too worried about the fact that he hasn't competed in a while.

Indeed, he's a lightly-raced sort with just five runs since 2014, but he's won two of those and Candy has a good knack of finding good races for the now five-year-old.

Father Bertie is also worth a mention around 9/2 and is one of those consistent sorts which rarely runs a bad one.


1.50 Newmarket: Curlew River

2.45 Wetherby: Silsol

3.30 Newmarket: Greenside (e/w)

3.35 Ascot: Killala Quay (e/w)

6.40 Chelmsford: Dealer's Choice

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