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.
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.
He has won 15 races and amassed total prize-money of more than three-quarters of a million pounds.
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.
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.
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.
Sorry Alan, but this Lexus is a bit too cool for you...
A hot hatch for the green generation? I'm not convinced.
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Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman has been retired after suffering a setback in his preparation for the Lexus Chase.
Her best horse had been beaten again, and a wild, murky afternoon in the flatlands must have blended fairly seamlessly with her own emotional landscape. But Henrietta Knight did not have to seek far here yesterday to remember how it's an ill wind that blows no good. It was only five days previously, after all, that the horse who had just beaten Somersby dismayed his own connections with a fall at Sandown. Having duly avoided a hard race against Sizing Europe, Gauvain was able to rise from the canvas and win the Betfred Peterborough Chase – and, in the process, at least he confirmed Knight in her suspicion that Somersby nowadays requires a stiffer test of stamina.
As Tom Glocer steps down as CEO, Sean Farrell reads between the lines
Already disparaged as inferior to a crop that has barely begun its own journey to the same race, last season's novice chasers today vest their wounded pride in one who was himself damned with faint praise even when winning the RSA Chase. The success of Bostons Angel at Cheltenham last March was immediately dismissed as gutsy opportunism, the eventual protagonists having staggered up the hill as though abashed by their inferiority to rivals who had variously run below form, or failed to get round.