Sport Sprinter Sacre pleased connections yesterday after his Kempton scare

Last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs will miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a tendon injury.

Bobbing along: Bobs Worth and Barry Geraghty take the Lexus with ease

Bobs Worth bounces back in style

Gold Cup champion trounces Irish challengers to become clear favourite to retain Festival crown

Merry King ready to revel in mud of Chepstow marathon

In keeping with everything else about Christmas, there’s almost too much for the racing fan to appreciate and digest at the moment.

Akeed Mofeed, ridden by Douglas Whyte, wins the Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin

Arvika profits from Sir Des Champs’ quick exit as jumping’s best fall short

Jump racing’s essential paradox, that often as not the best chasers cannot jump, was perfectly illustrated at the weekend, when last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs followed the Gold Cup fourth The Giant Bolster in proving unequal to the fundamental task, departing at the third fence in a three-runner race on his reappearance at Punchestown. The two-and-a-half-mile Grade One contest, so rapidly reduced to a match, went to stablemate Arvika Ligeonniere.

Cue Card puts in a trademark leap for Joe Tizzard in winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock

Cue Card message clear for King George

The race regarded as an autumn Gold Cup resulted in the utter rout of the past winners of the Festival blue riband at Haydock on Saturday as Cue Card set the seal on his emergence at the top of the British staying division with an emphatic display of front-running jumping to win the Grade One Betfair Chase.

Paul Nicholl's 12-year-old Tidal Bay can add the Betfair Chase to his winning tally

Veteran Tidal Bay can floor top chasers and have his day as punters’ best friend

He has won 15 races and amassed total prize-money of more than three-quarters of a million pounds.

Veteran Tidal Bay can floor top chasers and have his day as punters’ best friend

He has won 15 races and amassed total prize-money of more than three-quarters of a million pounds.

Tidal Bay won the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby earlier this month

Tidal Bay at high water in Hennessy Gold Cup weights

Over the years Tidal Bay has drawn many less than complimentary opinions concerning his level of commitment to his vocation, but in the autumn of his career, revitalised since joining Paul Nicholls, he can now demand comparison with some of the stable's best.

Sir Des Champs, who won at the Cheltenham Festival last year under Davy Russell
First Lieutenant (right), in the absence of his old rival Bobs Worth (left), can land the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham

Cheltenham Festival: First Lieutenant can assume command

The Festival has lost none of its intensity since expanding to a fourth day in 2005, but those who counselled that "less is more" may yet feel they had a point when they contemplate today's card. Elevated to the Thursday centrepiece, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle has hitherto borrowed lustre first from Inglis Drever, who won three times in four years, and then from Big Buck's, whose record-breaking spree of 18 wins has incorporated the last four runnings.

A holiday for the senses: You can tell you're abroad from a glance at the local press

Obituaries promoted on the front page of a broadsheet and language that would never pass in a UK paper demonstrate a vastly different set of values

Tidal Bay, right, is very well handicapped in the National

Lenient weight for Aintree fancy Tidal Bay angers National rivals

However conscientiously they strive to improve the odds in terms of safety at Aintree – a greater imperative than ever, after trauma and tragedy in each of the past two years – the one thing they will never provide is a level playing field. Even so, some felt that the dice had been unfairly loaded in favour of one horse in particular when the weights for the John Smith's Grand National were published.

Hurricane Fly gained a bloodless victory in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday

Nicholls shapes his plans to fit Bay's eccentric contours

Given that awards and judgements seem to be a natural feature of the turn of a year, surely the statisticians at the sport's ratings bible Timeform can take the opportunity to hand out a bit of justice with the removal of one of their pejorative gongs. For the past four seasons the symbol for unreliability – a periwig squiggle – has accompanied their annual essays on the classy but enigmatic Tidal Bay.

Nimble for a big car: the Lexus GS

Lexus GS 450h - Test Drive

Sorry Alan, but this Lexus is a bit too cool for you...

Japanese cars top reliability poll

Japanese cars are the most reliable, according to a survey.

Lexus CT 200h F Sport

A hot hatch for the green generation? I'm not convinced.

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Berlin, Dresden, Meissen & Colditz
Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album