Saturday’s action was arguably the best of the jumps season so far, despite the swamp at Haydock creating attritional conditions at Haydock and taking some of the gloss of a terrific day. There were no issues with the going at Ascot, and Yanworth – whilst unspectacular – did enough to win on his seasonal return and show he will be one of the top hurdlers around this season in open company. Landofhopenadglory continued his promising start to his hurdling career at Punchestown and the ride of the day has to go to Harry Skelton on his smash and grab ride on the unfancied Ch’Tibello at Haydock.
3 15 SIRE DE GRUGY (G Moore) 8/1, C2 H’Cap Chase, 2M, Good to Soft
Gary Moore spoke highly of SDG all week, but in reality we had heard all this before and the SP of 8/1 showed that many decided to take this talk very lightly. The Tingle Creek in two weeks time has always been the main priority, but connections believed with the form he is in, the pot at Ascot was worth a crack despite giving significant weight to the field. The 10YO forgot his troubled campaign of last season and travelled ominously throughout. Although it was a significant drop in grade, connections were over the moon with his return. There is a lot more to prove if SDG is to match any of his 2015 form, but this was a step in the right direction.
3 00 CUE CARD (C Tizzard) 15/8, Grade 1 Chase, 3M, Heavy
It was attritional going at Haydock and a classy renewal of the Betfair Chase was an open affair; questions needed to be answered by Cue Cardd, Coneygree was back after a lengthy break whilst still unbeaten over fences and a resurgent Seeyouatmidnight was the fancied horse in conditions. Cue Card romped home to the delight of the large Merseyside crowd and one of England’s favourite chasers showed his form of last season is potentially still there. Coneygree also ran a stormer and to travel and jump the way he did after such a lay off showed that on another day with a run under his belt and on a better surface, Coneygree would have gone much closer. Both trainers were delighted with their stars and laid out their future plans immediately. Cue Card’s path is laid out for him with the million pound bonus the lure, whilst Coneygree looks set to skip the King George for a trip over to Ireland for the equivalent race there.