EXPERIENCE counts for a lot in life, which is why Cue Card is taken to see off his younger stablemate Thistlecrack in a Christmas cracker of a 32Red King George VI Chase.
Winner of the race 12 months ago when he nailed the ill-fated Vautour as the line loomed, he was only denied a £1m bonus when falling in the Gold Cup three out when apparently still full of running.
Cue Card has a huge fan club, partly because of his longevity – he won the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham as a 40-1 chance in 2010 – and while for a spell some considered him an underachiever, a look at his record now puts any notion of that to bed.
Winner of 15 of his 33 races, eight of those at the highest level, he numbers victories over the likes of Long Run and Al Ferof, both of whom are now retired.
With well over seven figures earned in prize money, he certainly owes his connections nothing and looked as good as ever when winning a third Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Exciting novice Thistlecrack might be the one to be on in March, but he has yet to prove he can do it on a sharp track, going flat out and jumping at top speed.
Irish raider Anibale Fly looks a fascinating contender in the 32Red Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
Tony Martin’s charge was Barry Geraghty’s choice in the Drinmore, but he could only stay on into second behind Coney Island in the same JP McManus colours.
Nevertheless, it was still a good run by Anibale Fly in Grade One company for the first time and the fact he makes the journey is a tip in itself.
Henri Parry Morgan should find things easier in the 188Bet Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby than on his first outing of the season in the Hennessy.
A minor problem meant Peter Bowen was unable to get a run into him before the Newbury race and he looked a little rusty in the jumping department. Last season he made relentless progress and with a pipe-opener under his belt, he can carry on where he left off.