Monday 11 December 2017

Ratings guide should mark your Card for King George glory

Cue Card ridden by Joe Tizzard winning the Betfair Steeple Chase in November
Cue Card ridden by Joe Tizzard winning the Betfair Steeple Chase in November

Wayne Bailey

WHEN it comes to backing horses, there are times when it pays to keep things simple -- especially in the top-class non-handicap chases.

As a general rule, the form stands up very well in graded races and a horse's official rating is quite a good guide as to how well or otherwise he will perform.

While they tend to be short prices, I always circle any horse with an official rating of 165 or higher and, believe it or not, such horses almost break even if backed blindly.

If the horse has raced recently (in the last 60 days), you can be confident that its rating is fairly accurate and, by adding that recent-run rule, you have the bones of a simple but pretty decent system which will provide one winning bet in three on average.

At times, more than one horse per race will qualify but, if this happens, simply back the one with the highest rating.

This approach has produced 102 winners from 292 bets in the last 10 years and, had you stuck a tenner on each, you'd be richer to the tune of €242.

For this reason and more, I reckon the 172-rated Cue Card could be the one to side with in this afternoon's King George VI at Kempton (3.10), generally available at 5/2.

In this race last year, he appeared to have stamina issues over the three-mile distance and I must admit that I was one of those who suggested that he would be best campaigned over shorter trips.

But any doubts about his staying power were clearly put to bed in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month when winning by four-and-a-half lengths in a race which included today's opponents Dynaste, Silviniaco Conti and Long Run.

There aren't many horses which can show that sort of versatility over various distances and Colin Tizzard has a very special animal in his care.

I did get concerned about Cue Card while watching his previous race, the Haldon Gold Cup Chase at Exeter, in early November as his jumping left a lot to be desired and he made a serious mistake early on which possibly cost him the race.

But, in fairness, he was giving weight all round and Joe Tizzard just couldn't seem to get him stoked up. In the Betfair Chase, his jumping was flawless and it was the type of performance that puts him up there with some of the best chasers around at the moment.

My main concern is Colin Tizzard's strike rate recently. He had three winners in October, five in November and just one in December from a total of 109 runners.

As it turns out, there's been a minor infection doing the rounds in the yard -- although connections have suggested that Cue Card may have already had the bug.

If so, that might partly explain his poor performance at Exeter. But a King George is not easily won and Paul Nicholls' Al Ferof has serious claims in this too.

He picked up an injury which ruled him out of last year's renewal but previously Ruby Walsh had said he looked a proper King George horse and I doubt we've seen the best of the 2012 Paddy Power Gold Cup winner just yet.

EACH-WAY SELECTION

MALCOLM Jefferson's Cape Tribulation was below form on both starts this season but has excuses, and the good ground in the Hennessy Gold Cup last time did him no favours.

The handicapper has eased him 5lb to 153 and with a bit of cut in the ground expected for the William Hill Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby (1.45), he's capable of finishing in the money today, priced around 8/1.

TODAY'S SELECTIONS

1.20 Leopardstown: Guitar Pete

1.45 Wetherby: Cape Tribulation (e/w)

2.0 Kempton: Third Intention

2.45 Limerick: Felix Yonger

2.35 Kempton: The New One

3.10 Kempton: Cue Card

Irish Independent

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