By Simon Jackson.
Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti clash in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday, their first meeting since the dramatic finish of the 2013 King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Cue Card landed the Betfair Chase last year from Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti and looked set to repeat the feat in the King George where he led from the outset and still appeared to be travelling well three fences from the finish.
Yet he suddenly seemed to falter and was headed approaching the penultimate fence by Silviniaco Conti who maintained the momentum to score by three-and-a-half-lengths from the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card in second place.
Tizzard’s charge has not raced since then due to suffering an injury in the lead-up to the Cheltenham Festival. He was fourth on his comeback in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter earlier this month under Daryl Jacob and the trainer anticipates a big run from his stable star against a maximum of eight rivals in Saturday’s Grade 1 contest.
“Cue Card has come out of the Haldon Gold Cup very well and the run has improved him both mentally and physically,” Tizzard said.
“He was coming back from a near 11-month lay-off at Exeter and was trying to give masses of weight to really exciting two-milers.
“All my horses have been improving for a run this season and I know he has as well. He is a lot tighter and going from Exeter to Haydock worked a treat last year, so hopefully it will be the same this time around.
“Haydock suits him and the race is right up his street. I think he is the one to beat and we are looking forward to it.”
Betfair PR manager Barry Orr added: “It is fantastic that all nine stand their ground for Saturday’s showpiece and at this stage Cue Card is just topping the betting but Silviniaco Conti is snapping at his heals.”
The Betfair Chase: 3-1 Cue Card, 10-3 Silviniaco Conti, 4-1 Dynaste, 5-1 Taquin Du Seuil, 8-1 Menorah, 14-1 Harry Topper, 25-1 Double Ross, Medermit, 33-1 The Giant Bolster. EW Terms 1/4 three places
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.