Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Racing Cheltenham

Cheltenham 2017: Card on Cue for Gold Cup success despite last year's big tumble

By Graham Peach

The crashing fall of Cue Card in last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup was one of the defining moments of the meeting and one that for many led to more questions being asked as opposed to being solved.

Although the spill at the third-last saw the still strong-travelling former Ryanair Chase winner miss out on capturing a £1million bonus, for owner Jean Bishop victory was simply seeing her pride and joy return safe.

She said: "Paddy Brennan's idea was to get him over that fence and then go on with him, but it didn't work out that way. He was travelling well, but that doesn't mean to say he would have won. Nobody knows what the result would have been.

"When I saw him go down I stopped watching the race. To tell you the truth my mind was blank. It had come as such a shock that he had fallen. I was just hoping that he got up OK. He did and he lives to fight another day.

"He has always been very solid with his jumping, but they can make mistakes, although Paddy did admit it might not have been the horse's fault and that he should have waited until the two in front had gone over the fence before he went."

Despite statistics suggesting Cue Card is now too old to win the blue riband prize, with 12-year-old What A Myth back in 1969 the last horse above the age of 10 to triumph, Bishop feels her star performer is more than capable of a third Festival success.

Form figures would back up the Bexhill-based owner's beliefs with three further Grade One victories having gone his way following his high-profile tumble, the most recent arriving last month when destroying his rivals on his way to a second win in the Ascot Chase.

She said: "Obviously the fall didn't affect him as he came out and won at Aintree afterwards. He has still got his enthusiasm for it. He doesn't look 11 and age is just a number. Some horses that are eight and nine have not got the enthusiasm he has got.

"I don't see why he won't run a big race in the Gold Cup. I would not put him in there for the sake of it. I would not put him in there and see him struggle - I think he deserves to be there."

For all those that will be cheering on Cue Card and have been sending messages of good luck, there will be one person missing: Jean's late husband, Bob, who passed away shortly after the horse's 2015 King George VI triumph.

She added: "We do all enjoy it. It is just a shame he is not here to see his best season.

"It has been a hard time without him, but I'm sure he knows what is going on," commented Jean.

"I'm sure he is looking down on us and he would want us to enjoy ourselves."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph