Cue Card marked himself as a true contender for the King George VI Chase as he turned in a spring-heeled display of jumping in the sportingbet Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.
The former top bumper and two-mile novice hurdler staged an exhibition round in which he hardly touched a twig and was on occasions - such as when pinging the ditch on the far side of the track - quite spectacular to watch.
With his main market rival Menorah toiling throughout, the 5-6 favourite gradually pulled clear under Joe Tizzard as he met the four fences in the home straight spot-on. In the end, he had 26 lengths to spare as Edgardo Sol rallied past a tired Menorah after that one made a bad mistake at the last.
There was a strong bookmaker reaction to the display, with Paddy Power making Cue Card 8-1 from 16s for the King George while Victor Chandler offer 10-1 from 25s.
Trainer Colin Tizzard said: "Watching him today, it makes you wonder why you would ever think of going up to three miles, but Kempton (the King George) has been his target and if he's ever going to get three miles, it will be round there.
"Pace is just not an issue for him as he was always cruising. He used to tank but he was a lot less fizzy than he normally is on his first run back. When Joe squeezed him up, he was gone."
Tizzard added that he would give Cue Card one more outing ahead of the King George "somewhere". He explained: "I honestly haven't given that a lot of thought. He will go somewhere but I don't know where for sure. He might even go for the Betfair Chase yet."
Joe Tizzard added: "He was electric at his fences and was pricking his ears all the way up the straight. He's only a six-year-old and will hopefully carry on progressing."
Philip Hobbs had no excuses for Menorah, who will probably remain over fences for the time being despite being caught for second place.
The trainer said: "He was a bit flat, but to be fair he'd have been a clear second but for his bad mistake at the last. Nothing is being ruled out, but I think he'll stick to chasing."
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