This March post updated, August 16th:
The sponsors still offer 10/1 about my favourite horse, for the King George on Boxing Day (see betting graphic). Mr Henderson says two of his key players are most unlikely to run. Even if they do, the great Sprinter Sacre will be trying 3m for the first time in what is usually a serious stamina test. Bobs Worth would only be warming up at 3m round Kempton, and would want another circuit. I can’t see Mr Tizzard resisting the chance to put things right after last year’s misfortunes in this race, and Cue Card is likely to be the value bet of the season. He’s always fine value, because so many doubters remain. Make them pay!
Despite the current December-like weather, the King George chase is a long way off. But a half a dozen firms are betting on it, all offering a big fat price on my favourite punting horse Cue Card.
Stan James, Boylesports, William Hill, Bet 365 and Betvictor will lay you 12/1 the Ryanair winner. Bookies are becoming used to taking this horse on, but a sizable element of this price can only be based on the chances of Cue Card not turning up. He ran poorly in the 2012 King George (his first attempt at 3 miles) although he was on his nose at the first, blundered again at the third and generally seemed to struggle in the deep ground – the worst going the race had been run on since 1937.
Should it be as muddy again this year, I doubt he will run. But the going there is usually no worse than good to soft. He was showing no signs of stopping in the Ryanair on good to soft and I’d expect him to stay the extra 3 furlongs of the King George on the pancake flat Kempton course.
His trainer, Colin Tizzard seems ready for another shot going by his recent comments to Racing UK when interviewed at Exeter:
He’s come back absolutely fine and he actually cantered on Saturday.
I’m sure he’ll go to Aintree (Melling Chase, 2m 4f). I’m sure he’ll start off here (the Haldon ) but I’m not convinced he doesn’t stay the longer trip.
“The King George could be quite tempting. He was a bit fat in the neck and one or two of mine weren’t running well at the time. He didn’t stop at Cheltenham, so it’s all to play for.
Of his likely opponents on Boxing Day, all being well, I reckon Bobs Worth will need a much sterner stamina test to be at his best; Simonsig doesn’t jump well enough and his trainer believes he’s a two-miler; Long Run is very consistent but is another who needs a severe staying trip and is one-paced; Silviniaco Conti could run well; Dynaste is over-rated; Flemenstar’s connections fear he is a poor traveller (as in making the journey across from Ireland) and I suspect he might not be quite the horse some think he is. I’d fear Al Ferof if he turned up fit and well, and also Benefficient who impressed me at Cheltenham.
Cue Card is currently Timeform’s joint-third top-rated steeplechaser on 175 (with Flemenstar – Bobs Worth is on 179 and Sprinter Sacre 192p).
I think Cue Card is a very short price to run in the King George, and if he runs, I doubt he’ll be more than 5/1, probably shorter if he wins at Aintree next month, and I think he will.
So given a seven or eight point benefit in the price, I think he’s well worth a bet, For those unfamiliar with ante-post betting, please bear in mind that if Cue Card does not run in the King George, your stake money is lost.