- Cheltenham Festival, Day Three
Electric Cue Card collects Ryanair prize
Cue Card produced a brilliant front-running display to land the Ryanair Chase for Colin and Joe Tizzard.
Connections had toyed with the idea of taking on Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase, but they elected for the longer trip and it paid off as Cue Card jumped superbly and dispelled any stamina doubts by powering away for a brilliant win.
Cue Card did it the hard way, as he was hassled for the lead from the outset by Champion Court.
He fought off Champion Court despite making one bad blunder, but was stalked through by First Lieutenant.
An injection of pace from Tizzard aboard Cue Card turning for home had First Lieutenant off the bridle and it eked out a two-length lead at the second last.
The advantage was stretched to three lengths after the former Champion Bumper winner had pinged the last. Stamina doubts and a suspect attitude were put to the test on the run to the line, but Cue Card trampled them in style by powering away.
"There's a lot of pressure that comes with the really nice horses," trainer Colin Tizzard said. "They went a good old gallop and he proved he stays. His jumping was fast and fluent and I think we've seen him at his best today.
"I'm just glad it's over, there's been a lot of pressure on me these last few weeks.
"He's been a good horse for four years now and hopefully there's a few more left in him. He doesn't even look like he's had a hard race, so I don't see any reason why he won't run at Aintree and Punchestown."
First Lieutenant did superbly to battle on for second, having been stopped in his tracks at the third from home, while For Non Stop fended off last year's winner Riverside Theatre for third.
Albertas Run, a three-time Festival winner, never travelled in the race and was pulled up by AP McCoy.
Benefficient caused a major shock when toppling hot favourite Dynaste in the Jewson Novices' Chase. David Pipe toyed with the prospect of sending Dynaste for the RDA Chase over three miles, but opted for the race over half a mile less. This race looked the tougher on paper and so it proved as after travelling well, the 11/8 favourite appeared tapped for toe heading towards the final fence and was run down by Tony Martin's Benefficient who was providing Bryan Cooper with a first Festival win.
Holywell provided Jonjo O'Neill with his first winner of this year's Festival with a game success in the Pertemps Final. The six-year-old came into the race with a string of seconds to his name, but a pair of first-time blinkers appeared to make the difference as he travelled well, took up the running turning for home and stayed on well in the hands of Richie McLernon to deny Captain Sunshine who surrendered a stack of ground at the start.