Cue Card broke with his current trend of only winning the Betfair Chase on odd numbered years as he followed up his wins in 2013 and 2015 by putting a top quality field to pure destruction as he romped home by fifteen lengths ahead of 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree in a race where the front two put it to the sword from flag fall to the winning post.
From the outset Coneygree took them along under Richard Johnson and still led off the final turn,however Paddy Brennan on his old adversary Cue Card were merely the sitting ducks as the breezed past him over four out from which it became a case of asking the referee to stop the contest.
Cue Card now heads to Kempton on Boxing Day to try and get leg two of the Chasers Triple Crown in the bag before the Gold Cup, Coneygree will no doubt follow suit unless connections fancy a trip to Ireland for the Lexus Chase a few days after, Silviniaco Conti was very disappointing back in fourth place some 42 lengths behind the winner, he did win the Ascot Chase last season so connections might fancy dropping him back to 2m4f-6f now.
As for Cue Card he clearly benefitted from that run at Wetherby last month and back on level weights with his victor that day Irish Cavalier who along with the well touted Seeyouatmidnight were both pulled up.
Elsewhere on a top class supporting card Ch’tibello scored very impressively in the 2m Price Rush Hurdle which was run on the inner flat track, travelling well behind the pace he took over the lead just before two out under Harry Skelton for his brother Dan and won with some authority from veteran Melodic Rendezvous, 10/11f My Tent Or Yours was held up as expected but couldn’t fully pick up when needed, Ch’tibello will now head off to Kempton on Boxing Day for the Christmas Hurdle and try to show he has the credentials for being a live British Champion Hurdle contender to take on the Willie Mullins mob.
Kruzhlinin formed part of a Richard Johnson treble and a Philip Hobbs double as he took the 2m7f Fixed Brush Hurdle from Theo’s Charm who really made him race for it, Kruzhlinin has had a busy early campaign and came here after being third at Aintree in a Pertemps Qualifier, a return to fences looks more than likely now although he didn’t take to the big Aintree fences back in the spring but a good quality three mile handicap would be more suitable.
Evan Williams had a nice winner in the opener here with Clyne who hadn’t run since sauntering home in a 2m hurdle at Warwick back in February, raised 13lb by the handicapped after that race clearly hasn’t stopped him and he took over the lead with about half the race still to go, going in off 132 he beat the Hobbs trained Verni by 7 lengths, a crack at the big 2m hurdle at Ascot before Christmas looks more than plausible off this, Verni travelled well but met one too good here and could be going chasing before too long.
El Terremoto won the 2m3f hurdle, a race which over the years has been won by the likes of More Of That and Rock The Kasbah, he made easy work of his 126 mark under Jamie Bargary whose 3lb claim was more than useful here, following on from his maiden win at Stratford over 2m6f he should easily get three miles in time, only a 4yo the national hunt world is oyster at the moment and it would be a no brainer to go for either the Relkeel at Cheltenham or the Challow at Newbury next month, the step up on trip has really showed him in his true light.
Welsh National clues were abound in the 3m4f chase which as expected became a right old slog fest and the unexposed Mysteree,formerly trained by Lucinda Russell last season but now in the care of Michael Scudamore had already had a taste of staying chases last season most notably when fourth in the Eider and scored here in some style, he held off Chase The Spud by around three and a half lengths and looks set to make the journey for the Chepstow marathon and Haydock regulars might even see him back here in February for the National Trial over course and distance.
In the finale,a 3m chase saw Three Faces West give Richard Johnson the match ball as he made all to land a nice prize coming home as easy as he liked by some thirteen lengths from last seasons Midlands National winner Firebird Flyer, front running certainly suited him better than the hold up tactics that resulted in him being pulled up at Carlisle on his seasonal reappearance last month, it would be no shock to see him back here in January for the Peter Marsh, runner up Firebird Flyer found this trip a bit short but it will leave him spot on for the Welsh National.
An excellent weekend of top class jumps racing then, the weather was a lot better than the horrendous conditions that Friday had and a fair and healthy crowd appreciated seeing some top class national hunt racing.
Without doubt Cue Card was the star of the show and with leg one done of the triple crown done the King George on Boxing Day could well live up to be an even bigger present that any letter to Lapland could ever say for all fans of racing.
Next racing action here will be the Becher Chase meeting at Aintree with two races over the big fences.
Until then, Goodbye.
El Terremoto,4yo trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies was very impressive in the 2m3f hurdle race and could be a World Hurdle type in what looks a wide open division now, although the yard has Ballyoptic this youngster has lots more to offer.