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Dublin: 4°C Monday 19 April 2021
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Mark your Card: your best bet for today's Grade racing

Declan Smyth reviews the form as Cue Card and Menorah prepare for their seasonal debuts at Exeter this afternoon.

Cue Card: can he get the new season off to a winning start in the Haldon Gold Cup today?
Cue Card: can he get the new season off to a winning start in the Haldon Gold Cup today?
Image: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Haldon Gold Cup (Grade 2)

FIVE RUNNERS HAVE been declared for today’s Grade 2 Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, a limited handicap run over 2m1f 110yds and worth more than £35,000 to the winner. While anything can happen in jumps racing — and sometimes does — the top chances can be narrowed down to the three principles.

Menorah is the top-rated horse in the race and carries 11st 10lbs. A class act over hurdles, his jumping has often let him down over fences. He unshipped Richard Johnson in a novice chase here last year and then had two victories in small fields before subsequently falling at Doncaster.

He eventually got it together at Aintree in April where he beat Cristal Bonus, who impressed at Down Royal last Saturday, by seven lengths. Before that at Cheltenham, Menorah was a remote 29 lengths back in third behind Sprinter Sacre, with Cue Card 22l ahead of him in second.

His jumping is the biggest concern and it might be that things happen too quickly for him over shorter distances. His last victory at Aintree came over 2m4f where the pace was not as quick.

Edgardo Sol represents the in-form Paul Nicholls Stable. A model of consistency over the last 12 months, the five-year-old has risen 25lbs in the ratings. This has been his target for a while but it remains to be seen if he can continue to improve. With the stable in great form he poses a serious threat.

Cue Card has been a a great servant to connections with six wins and four places from twelve starts. He had Michael Flips and the exciting Silviniaco Conti behind him on his chasing debut at Chepstow in October last year. He then unseated Joe Tizzard following a blunder five fences out  when travelling well at Cheltenham. He was then beaten a short head by Bob’s Worth at Newbury over 2m4f but then came out on top over 2m3f at the same track against another exciting prospect in For Non Stop prior to his second place behind Sprinter Sacre.

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Cue Card has the form to win this over a stiff track which will bring his stamina into play. It has the makings of an exciting race between the top three with Renard and Webbery’s Dream making up the field.

But CUE CARD is the one they have to beat and it might pay to wait for the SP.

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About the author:

Declan Smyth

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