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

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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.

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

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

Lexus CT 200h F Sport

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