If Thistlecrack wins the World Hurdle on St.Patrick’s Day on Thursday, there is definite potential for an unforgettable Cheltenham Festival for trainer Colin Tizzard, whose popular chaser CUE CARD goes to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the form of his life having won the Betfair Chase and the King George and goes to the race in search of a one million pound bonus.
After a season in the shadows, a breathing operation has brought this truly top class legend back to life and he is finishing off his races better than ever. In the King George he produced a top class staying performance to gun down Vautour and back at Cheltenham, the scene of so many big days for the horse, he looks certain to go down on his shield if losing at all.
The top of the market is a bit of a shark-fest. Last year’s RSA Chase winner Don Poli could be a monster over the Gold Cup distance, but in truth the form of that RSA win is moderate to poor by Grade 1 standards and he is so unflashy it is hard to know exactly what to make of him. Djakadam has the ability but comes here on the back of a clumsy and unfortunate fall during a key prep race, while Don Cossack has been far from convincing in the build up too and always seems to find trouble in the very biggest races.
One horse who won’t flinch, who is unlikely to skip a beat among all the madness and question marks, is Cue Card. He jumps for fun, has limitless class and guts and more importantly, he seems to be enjoying his racing again. Paddy Brennan is a match made in heaven for the horse and at odds of 11/2 it is hard to deny the credentials of the horse to win National Hunt racing’s most revered race.
Earlier on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at 1.30pm, the Aidan O’Brien trained IVANOVICH GORBATOV has a good chance of giving the popular flat trainer and top owner JP McManus a Grade 1 win to savour to kick off Gold Cup Day.
This juvenile made a deeply impressive impression on his hurdling debut over the Christmas period when slamming the well-fancied Let’s Dance with a dazzling display of jumping. He fluffed his lines in a tactical race on horrible ground last time out but it is easy to forgive that run considering how good he looked before that.
Spring ground and a fast run race could bring about the improvement required to put up a big performance. The race has shaped up into an intriguing renewal in recent weeks, but Ivanovich Gorbatov has a touch of star quality about him.