HORSE RACING FIXTURES AND RESULTS
HORSE RACING FEATURE
Ratings Update: Cue Card back to best before Gold Cup test
Ben Fearnley highlights the major changes in the Timeform ratings following another busy weekend of National Hunt racing.
The feature Grade 1 race of the weekend was the Ascot Chase, and though it was a substandard field for the level, it provided a good opportunity for Cue Card to get back to the sort of form that saw him land the Betfair Chase back in the autumn. Cue Card – now Timeform rated 177 – was winning his second Ascot Chase four years on from his first and set himself up nicely for another crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the process. Cue Card will just about set the standard there on form, though his younger/shorter-priced stable-companions Native River (167p) and Thistlecrack (175) have more scope for improvement, while there is still the age-old doubt over whether he has the stamina for the Gold Cup trip.
The Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase earlier on on Ascot’s card provided the winner of the National Hunt Chase last season (Minella Rocco, who finished second at Ascot) and could be a key race once again. Arpege d’Alene (144) has been short in the betting for the National Hunt Chase for some time, and went off favourite on Saturday, but he ultimately looked short of pace and will benefit from stepping back up in trip. Fletchers Flyer (146) is entitled to strip fitter for this outing (returning from nine weeks off) and shaped well in third, giving weight away all round. The winner Bigbadjohn (144) should have no problem in the National Hunt Chase trip based on how he shaped, while gallant front runner Flintham (142) should be winning races over fences himself sooner or later.
The time in the Reynoldstown was a lot slower than the listed handicap won by Tenor Nivernais 35 minutes later, and he is worth crediting with a much improved performance as a result. He is now rated 159 (from 151) and was perhaps rightfully trimmed in the betting for the Grand National after the race. This form suggests he can be competitive at Aintree, though he is of course unlikely to get home if repeating the same tactics.