Cheltenham Festival: Cue Card wins Ryanair Chase


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The Independent Online

Cue Card made every post a winning one as he blitzed his rivals in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Winner of the Champion Bumper three years ago, Cue Card was well in control from the top of the hill and easily held favourite First Lieutenant by nine lengths at odds of 7-2.

Trainer Colin Tizzard had sounded his intention to get jockey son Joe to do it from the front before the race, and so it proved.

He had Cue Card smartly away and only Champion Court went with him as they set a nifty early pace.

Bryan Cooper, a late substitute for the injured Davy Russell aboard First Lieutenant, was content to sit and wait in third for much of the race before deciding to make his move three fences from home.

However, he pecked when jumping that fence, costing him valuable momentum and handing the initiative back to Cue Card.

While both Champion Court and First Lieutenant tried their best to challenge, it was evident Tizzard jnr still had a bit up his sleeve and Cue Card, who had looked keen in the early stages, galloped all the way to the line.

Riverside Theatre finished fast to edge out Champion Court for fourth, just failing to catch For Non Stop, but previous dual winner Albertas Run was never travelling and was pulled up some way from home by Tony McCoy.

Joe Tizzard said: "People think that when he gets taken on his jumping falls apart but he was so relaxed in front that it didn't matter that Jason (Maguire, on Champion Court) was beside me. He did it well.

"This is great for Bob and Jean (Bishop, owners) as they've supported me for seven years now, before they had horses with dad.

"He's a good horse, unfortunately he's been questioned a few times throughout his career but hopefully that will stop now."

Colin Tizzard said: "There's a lot of pressure that comes with the really nice horses.

"They went a good old gallop and he proved he stays. His jumping was fast and fluent and I think we've seen him at his best today.

"I'm just glad it's over, there's been a lot of pressure on me these last few weeks.

"The first winner (Golden Chieftain, on Tuesday) was an absolute surprise but this one was half expected.

"He's been a good horse for four years now and hopefully there's a few more left in him.

"We were mindful at the start of the season that we didn't want him to do too much.

"He doesn't even look like he's had a hard race today so I dont see any reason why he wont run at Aintree and Punchestown."

Michael O'Leary, owner of the runner-up, First Lieutenant, said: "I always thought he was having to go a shade too quick.

"He was entitled to go there but Cue Card was a two-miler going up in trip and we're a three-miler coming back.

"The best horse won on the day and I'm delighted for the Tizzards who are a great racing family here."