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Card right on cue for Newbury success

Colin Tizzard's smart performer Cue Card, as big as 20/1 in the ante-post betting for the Irish Independent Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March prior to his gutsy win at Newbury on December 31, is now a best priced 12/1 shot for the two-mile novice chasing crown after a thoroughly likeable performance, writes Elliot Slater.

Winner of the 2010 Cheltenham Festival Bumper and a highly respectable fourth to Al Ferof in the Stan James Supreme Novices Hurdle at the same fixture 12 months later, Cue Card had become something of a forgotten horse this term despite performing with credit on most occasions in his new role as a novice chaser. Winner of a four-runner affair at Chepstow on his fencing bow in October, the son of King's Theatre was still travelling well when making a typical novices mistake at the 11th in the Cheltenham contest won by the current RSA Chase hot favourite Grand Crus, before being caught by the very useful Bobs Worth in the last stride in a Grade 2 event at Newbury in November. Those looking at the Cheltenham Ante post betting would still have been impressed.

The form of his previous two outings was made to look very smart when Grand Crus and Bobs Worth filled first and third positions respectively in the Grade 1 Feltham Novices Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day so it should have come as no surprise to see Cue Card return to winning ways in the four-runner New Year's Eve contest, for which he was sent off third favourite behind Walkon and For Non Stop at 5/2. Anyone looking ahead to Cheltenham races will have been keeping an eye on him.

Joe Tizzard decided to take no prisoners and led at a decent pace from the start, and coming down to the third last was still going best when Walkon walked through the fence and put in a repeat performance at the second last as well. For Non Stop kept on but never looked likely to peg back the winner, eventually crossing the line four-lengths behind the West country-trained star.

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