Cue Card claims third Betfair Chase in four years
Cue Card won the Betfair Chase for the third time in four years as he produced an imperious performance to defeat the brave Coneygree at Haydock.
All the better for finishing third in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby three weeks ago, Colin Tizzard's big-race veteran proved too good for the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, who did not go down without a fight on his return from an absence of 377 days.
Coneygree led to four out under Richard Johnson, but Paddy Brennan was always happy on Cue Card and the 15-8 favourite gradually pulled away to score by 15 lengths.
Cue Card was backing up his wins in this race in 2013 and 2015, to win the first of three races needed to pick up a £1million bonus. He won the first two legs last season but fell at the third-last when holding every chance in the Gold Cup.
Brennan said: "It's unbelievable. I hadn't slept a wink since Wetherby, because I thought the horse didn't show everyone what he can do. I knew he was back.
"He felt unbelievable, just how he should feel. I was there a bit soon, but I just knew I am riding for a man who gets his horses extremely fit and I was going to give Coneygree every race I could.
"I know how good this lad is, and on his day not many can beat him. For me, he is a dream - it's a privilege to ride him.
"He's very special horse, owned by a very special person in Jean Bishop.
"He was unbelievable today."
Tizzard said: "He means everything. We've got a few other ones now, but then he comes and does this.
"He's absolutely sluiced up today and he's every bit as good as he's ever been.
"We schooled him this week and he jumped beautifully - he made it look so easy today.
"As for the £1m bonus, we are the only ones still in it. We went for the King George last year and that is the route we'll take again.
"He's got the adulation from the crowd now. For a few years everyone thought because he was so brilliant as a four-year-old he wouldn't last, but now people have latched on to him."
Trainer Mark Bradstock was delighted with Coneygree after so long off the track.
"I'm absolutely over the moon. He jumped super, he'd been off a long time, so we're delighted," he said.
"He's been off for over a year, so he is going to get tired. Coming to a Grade One first time out is quite an ask.
"He jumped super, travelled great. It looked like he was really enjoying himself. Hopefully he's all right tomorrow."