Cue Card to be aimed at festival showpiece says owner Bishop

Cue Card will run in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with Paddy Brennan on board if the popular veteran's owner Jean Bishop's wishes hold sway.

Bishop believes her beloved 12-year-old deserves a third crack at the festival's showcase event, having fallen at the third-last in the last two years.

Cue Card dispelled thoughts of retirement at Ascot on Saturday when he made progressive seven-year-old Waiting Patiently battle hard for a two-and-three-quarter-length victory in the Ascot Chase, and connections will now prepare him for the festival.

Colin Tizzard indicated on Saturday that whether he contests the Gold Cup or the Ryanair – which he won five years ago – will be his owner's decision. The trainer said: "It's no good asking me which race. There is unfinished business in one race and he has won the other before. Ultimately it will be Jean's choice."

While stressing that no firm decision had been made, Bishop said on Sunday: “It would be amazing if he could finish his career by winning the Gold Cup, and I think he deserves another chance in the race as there is unfinished business considering he has fallen at the third-last fence in his two tries in the race so far.

“If he managed to win the race I think it would bring the roof down at Cheltenham, with so many tears of joy being shed around the winner's circle so, for me, it’s a serious option.”

Bishop is also keen to maintain Saturday's partnership of Cue Card and Paddy Brennan, who had been replaced by Harry Cobden for his previous run at Haydock in the Betfair Chase but who was riding at Wincanton on Saturday.

“Paddy was my late husband Bob’s choice to ride the horse and he would definitely be mine," she said.

"We had a change at Haydock in the Betfair Chase and that didn't really work out, so Paddy will hopefully be on board once again at Cheltenham.”

Cue Card is between a 20-1 and 33-1 chance for the Gold Cup, which he might well have won two years ago, along with a £1 million triple crown bonus, but for capsizing three out, while he is between an 8-1 and 20-1 chance for the Ryanair.

Bishop added that she was humbled by the reception her runner-up at Ascot received following his gallant effort in what many considered the race of the season to date.

“I was taken aback at the rapturous reception the horse received after finishing second as the racing public rushed to see him come back into the enclosure after the race, which was a joy to watch," she said. "It’s as if he is now one of jump racing’s treasures at the age of 12.

“He has given so many people so much pleasure watching him over the years since he landed a bumper at Fontwell on his debut in 2010 and won the Champion Bumper at the festival on his next start.

"It seems as if everyone has taken him to their hearts and he really caught their imagination.”

Bishop was especially pleased the Ascot performance underlined the Cue Card story had at least one more chapter to come, saying: “I hope after Saturday’s fantastic run all the people who said Cue Card should be retired will have eaten their words and will probably have indigestion now as he showed all his old fire and spark in putting up what was one of his best-ever performances.”

While Waiting Patiently and Cue Card were serving up a treat in the closing stages of the Ascot Chase, connections of Irish raider Coney Island were experiencing different emotions after their Gold Cup hope was pulled up.

Trainer Eddie Harty reported on Sunday: "Coney Island was back in the yard this morning and appeared none the worse. He was just never able to get into the race for some reason. We'll check him out fully over the next few days and see if anything comes to light which might explain his disappointing display."

How Coney Island performed at Ascot was expected to decide whether he would be aimed at the Gold Cup or Ryanair.

Harty added: "The race was no help, we didn't learn anything. We'll review things after we have him checked out and decide whether he will go to Cheltenham at all."

Coney Island was having only his second start of the season on Saturday, having landed a Grade 2 graduation chase at Ascot in December.