After his impressive front-running display to triumph in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, despite common concerns over a lack of stamina, it is no surprise to see Cue Card shorten substantially to win the King George VI Chase, but remain a fair each-way price for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
However, Cue Card’s rise to become the cream of the chase division is following a similar path to that previously trodden by Imperial Commander and should the Betfair Chase winner continue down the same route, it is the Cheltenham contest he is most likely to win.
Cue Card is 5/2 in the King George betting and the Boxing Day Kempton showpiece is deemed largely similar to the Betfair Chase in terms of its demands, but is run on a right-handed track, rather than going left handed.
Meanwhile, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is considered a far more testing experience, because of the undulations of the course, the steep uphill finish and the fact that it is run over a slightly longer distance of 3m2f.
Cue Card is currently 8/1 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with three ahead of him in the betting and Ladbrokes offering the best odds on this eventuality. Bobs Worth, Silviniaco Conti and Sir Des Champs are all 6/1.
Despite these extra demands, the past record of Imperial Commander does suggest that the Cheltenham Gold Cup price is the one that punters should be latching onto for Cue Card.
Imperial Commander won the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2009, then headed to the Betfair Chase later in the same year, only to be beaten by an eyelash by Kauto Star in a tense head-bobbing finish.
But in his next start, Imperial Commander was a big disappointment in the King George, beaten by 64 lengths, with a possible reason being his preference for running left handed.
This was proved in the 2011 Gold Cup when putting his best foot forward again to beat the likes of Denman and Kauto Star and there were the same stamina doubts ahead of this contest, which currently still linger over Cue Card too.
Cue Card is following suit by winning the Ryanair Chase and then running above expectations in the Betfair Chase. A flop at Kempton now may actually be a positive for his Cheltenham Gold Cup prospects.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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