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Cheltenham Gold Cup tips – Cue Card the ace in the pack

Cue Card has looked as good as ever this season

What are the best bets in the Cheltenham Gold Cup?

15:30 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase

Last year’s 1-2-3: Coneygree (7/1), Djakadam (10/1), Road To Riches (8/1) – 16 ran.

Smad Place, the brilliant Hennessy winner and at it again when dishing out an easy beating to Many Clouds on Trials Day here, can be backed at 9/1, which says a lot for the four horses ahead of him in the betting: Djakadam, Don Cossack, Don Poli and Cue Card. It must be long odds-on that one of the five will prevail, but who to plump for?

They are all Grade 1 winners and have the necessary class, though Don Poli falls a bit short on the ratings and he’s been discarded by Bryan Cooper for the other Don, despite a couple of festival wins on his CV. It must have been a difficult choice.

Don Cossack has yet to show his best in two runs at the track – falling in the 2014 RSA and making a crucial blunder when third in last season’s Ryanair – and it was his jumping that let him down in this season’s King George, coming down two out when staying on and looking dangerous. Only two of the last 20 winners had an F in their chase form figures in their Gold Cup season, which is a concern.

That’s also a black mark against Djakadam who endured a nightmare prep when taking a nasty fall in the Cheltenham race won by Smad Place. He’s the only one of the five not to have run in either the King George or the Lexus and that’s another negative as 16 of the last 18 winners had run in one of those Christmas highlights. It would be foolish to rule out last year’s runner-up on that basis, but we need to narrow them down somehow.

I can’t believe Smad Place is going to nail his first Grade 1 at the 12th attempt, so that leaves us with CUE CARD. Colin Tizzard’s star has become a regular at the festival, winning twice (Champion Bumper & Ryanair) and has looked better than ever this season thanks to an operation for a trapped epiglottis, adding the Betfair Chase and King George to his burgeoning CV. That puts him in line for a £1 million bonus should he strike gold and I doubt he will fail through lack of stamina with several close relatives excelling at this end of the distance spectrum.

When you factor in the fact his stable is in excellent form, he really does stand out as the best bet in the race at Paddy Power’s 4/1, with their ‘money back if 2nd’ concession providing some added insurance.

SELECTION: Cue Card @ 4/1 Paddy Power (money back if 2nd)

All odds were correct at time of posting.

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