Racing delivered a feast on Boxing Day. Cue Card winning the King George VI at Kempton Park was but one emotional highlight of the day. Lizzie Kelly becoming the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 race over fences was another. It was an excellent day of racing covered superbly by Channel 4 Racing.
Cue Card is one of those horses I love, but which I have only rarely won money on. He usually wins when I oppose, and loses when I back him. No matter. He won the feature race of Boxing Day at the fourth attempt and for all I was very impressed with runner up Vautour, I jumped out of my seat when Cue Card got up to beat Vautour on the line. It was a great finish to a race that lived up to expectations. Had Don Cossack not fallen two fences from home when coming to challenge the other two, we might have seen a three way photo finish.
All racing fans and punters know that there is too much poor quality racing on offer these days. So when we do experience a fabulous day of racing we must both acknowledge it and appreciate it. On both sides of the Irish Sea on Boxing Day we saw some current stars in action. It was a joy to behold.
Paddy Brennan got everything out of Cue Card and received a lengthy ban and heavy fine for excessive use of the whip. But Cue Card won because of the tremendous training achievement by his modest trainer, Colin Tizzard, and his team. Let us not forget, Cue Card had earlier in the year twice been well beaten by Don Cossack. Only in November, when coming home first in the Betfair Chase at Haydock did Cue Card fans dare to believe that he could land a race as big as the King George.
Cue Card is now 7/1 best price to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and land connections the bonus prize of £1 million pounds for any horse that wins the Betfair Chase, the King George and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Two down, one to go for Cue Card.
Trainer Willie Mullins, meanwhile, will discuss with owner Rich Ricci if Vautour should take his place in the Gold Cup or, instead, going for the easier task of the Ryanair Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. Mullins said: “He got everything right but for the last 20 yards. It was a very brave run by Cue Card. We won’t be taking Vautour out of the Gold Cup but we will not make any decision for a while.”
And Don Cossack was fine after his late tumble. Trainer Gordon Elliott confirmed he will also be taking part in the Gold Cup next year.
For the moment, Cue Card takes all the plaudits. As does his professional and personable jockey Paddy Brennan. A jockey who is always quick to pay tribute to others. Brennan said: “That’s the best feeling of my whole career, the best day of my life. I’m so proud. It was a true race, I’m not going to lie and say there was loads there, I got to the bottom of the tank, but if there’s any man that’s going to get him back in that kind of form for the Gold Cup it’s Colin Tizzard.”
As for the trainer himself, he smiled and said: “Nowadays, he’s a completely different horse. He looks like a Gold Cup horse now.”
Another great race we can look forward.
As for the achievement of young Lizzie Kelly riding Tea for Two to victory and making racing history, say no more. Just watch this fantastic footage captured by the ever professional Channel 4 Racing team.