Though he once again departed from the script at Newbury yesterday, it would be hasty to join those already giving up on Cue Card. For a start, he was run down only in the final stride of the Fuller's London Pride Novices' Chase – and by a Cheltenham Festival winner in Bobs Worth, who was receiving 7lb and looks like proving even better over fences than over timber.
For much of the straight, moreover, Joe Tizzard had seemed to have matters under control, even affording himself a couple of leisurely glances over his shoulder after shrugging off a blunder four out. But the theory that Cue Card's ultimate destiny beckons over another half-mile seemed rather porous as Bobs Worth wore down a two-length deficit on the flat.
Nicky Henderson is looking forward to stepping Bobs Worth back up in trip, probably at Kempton on Boxing Day. "It's the obvious place," the trainer said. "I know you'd bump into Grands Crus there, but that's what the race is there for. He'll improve a lot for that."
Tizzard, unseated from Cue Card at Cheltenham a fortnight previously, again exuded self-reproach on his return but was exonerated by his father, Colin. "Joe seemed to think he should have asked him at the last," the trainer said. "But he was on a perfect stride. I'd say we've just been outstayed by a very good one, and the penalty has found us out."
Bobs Worth is 8-1 with Betfred for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March, with Grands Crus 4-1, while Cue Card remains 10-1 for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy back over two miles. Peddlers Cross, 9-2 favourite for that race, meanwhile undertakes the next test for what looks a classy crop of novices at Bangor today.
Ruby Walsh is expected to take his mounts today after being stood down with a kick to the helmet yesterday.