Cue Card claimed Grade One honours for the second time in his career after a mistake at the penultimate fence cost Captain Chris any chance in the Betfair Ascot Chase.
Colin Tizzard's Cue Card was reckless himself on occasions, surviving a couple of errors in the course of the extended two miles and five furlongs, but his boundless enthusiasm and the cruising speed which won him a Cheltenham Champion Bumper enabled him to stay in the hunt.
King George runner-up Captain Chris had drawn alongside by the home straight, but lost valuable ground when taking off too early at the second-last fence and the 15-8 favourite was able to finish six lengths clear.
Tizzard's son Joe, Cue Card's jockey, believed he had matters in hand and the pair can head to the Cheltenham Festival full of confidence - where the trainer hinted he would be likely to contest the Ryanair Chase unless red-hot favourite Sprinter Sacre failed to appear in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
"Joe thought he had two or three more gears, maybe that's just him talking," said Colin Tizzard about circumstances at the second-last.
"He's a very good horse. He ran well in the King George (fifth), but I wasn't sure he was quite himself that day, even though I couldn't find anything wrong.
"I expect we'll leave a decision (about Cheltenham) nearer the time. If Sprinter Sacre wasn't in the Queen Mother, that would be very tempting, but if Sprinter Sacre's there on his A-game, I'd imagine we'll go the other way."
Richard Johnson said of Captain Chris: "I think it would have been very close. I don't know what Joe was thinking, but I thought we were going as well as him.
"He can be too brave sometimes, but he has still run well. Hopefully we'll get better ground at Cheltenham and I'd like to ride him in the Gold Cup."
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Gold hopes fading for Topper
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