As the dust continues to settle on Cue Card’s imperious display in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, connections of the superstar will now be wondering whether they have a genuine Cheltenham Gold Cup contender on their hands.
Cue Card’s vast amount of ability has never been in doubt and the chaser has flaunted his talents at the highest level on a number of different occasions.
Colin Tizzard’s bold front-runner has plenty of class, but there is now a belief that he is also has plenty of stamina and that is a quality that he will need to have in abundance if he is to land the Gold Cup at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.
The way he galloped his rivals into submission in the Betfair Chase was certainly impressive and there were no signs that the three miles and one furlong was too much for last season’s Ryanair Chase hero.
There had originally been concerns that the task would be too daunting after his poor performance over the trip in the 2012 King George VI Chase, but his critics were silenced in style and he will now head back to Kempton on Boxing Day with a following full of confidence.
But is it too early to start taking short prices on Cue Card landing the Gold Cup?
Testing conditions at Prestbury Park in March would surely be a huge problem and if the ‘blue riband’ turned into a gruelling battle on soft ground then there would be a long queue of people looking to take on the multiple Grade One winner.
It’s also far too early to be writing off some of his Cheltenham rivals and although he could only finish sixth behind Cue Card on Saturday, Bobs Worth still looks to have formidable chance of defending his crown at HQ next year.
He will be a different animal when he returns to his beloved Cheltenham and connections of Irish raider Sir Des Champs, the fantastic Al Ferof and the improving Dynaste will all be bullish about exposing any of Cue Card’s weaknesses when they reach the bottom of the famous Cheltenham hill in next year’s Gold Cup.