Cue Card Ryanair favourite

  • Last Updated: February 16 2013, 16:36 GMT

Cue Card is clear favourite for the Ryanair Chase after he made all to win the Betfair Ascot Chase from Captain Chris.

Colin Tizzard's former Champion Bumper winner appeared to see out the trip without any problems and is as short as 3/1 for the Festival contest, although totesport and Betfred reacted with standout quotes of 9/2.

Things could have been different but for a shuddering mistake from the runner-up which ended what had looked a seriously threatening challenge, but Sky Bet saw enough in his performance to make Captain Chris a 16/1 chance for the Betfred Gold Cup.

Finian's Rainbow put in a lifeless display on his first start since November and is out to 12/1 for the Ryanair, while Stan James are all but ruling out a successful defence of his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown.

"We've cut Colin Tizzard's stable star from 9/2 to 4/1 for the Ryanair Chase but his jumping still leaves a bit to be desired and we're happy to lay him at that price," said the firm's Rory Jiwani.

"He's also 12/1 from 16/1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase for which defending champion Finian's Rainbow is now a 20/1 shot after he disappointed yet again."

Ladbrokes, who cut Cue Card to 7/2 from 9/2 for the Ryanair, are of the belief that the Tizzard horse will arrive at the Festival as clear favourite.

David Wiliams said: "Cue Card's position at the front end of the Ryanair was strengthened by his Ascot win.

"He looks almost certain to turn up there as the big race favourite."

Earlier on the card, Rocky Creek held off the sustained challenge of Houblon Des Obeaux to land the Reynoldstown and he's 12/1 for the RSA Chase with Sky Bet and Paddy Power.

The John Oaksey Memorial National Hunt Chase is another possibility and the general 8/1 offered makes Rocky Creek third-favourite for that contest, although trainer Paul Nicholls refused to commit his charge to a run at Cheltenham.

Even so, Stan James were particularly impressed and make him as short as 6/1 for the National Hunt Chase.

Jiwani added: "I've heard a fair few people crabbing that run from Rocky Creek but it turned into a three-horse race and I thought he did it well enough.

"He's sure to be a big player in either the RSA Chase or the four-mile NH Chase at the Festival."

Nicholls enjoyed cross-card success when Zarkandar landed the Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle with the minimum of fuss at Wincanton, and he's been cut to 4/1 for the Stan James Champion Hurdle by Coral.

However, Ruby Walsh confirmed that he intends to ride general 13/8 favourite Hurricane Fly at the Festival and both William Hill and Boylesports are prepared to lay 6/1 about Zarkandar.

Leon Blanche, head of communications at Boylesports, commented: "Zarkandar did it well when justifying favouritism at Wincanton but remains 6/1 with Boylesports."

"Ruby Walsh announced that he will ride Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle and he is now the clear 6/4 favourite."

There was also a shake-up in the John Smith's Grand National market after first Cappa Bleu ran a hugely encouraging race at Ascot before Teaforthree disappointed at Haydock.

The former chased home Vino Griego to confirm his well-being and is as short as 12/1 for the Aintree feature with Sky Bet, although 16/1 is the general price on offer.

Rebecca Curtis warned punters that Teaforthree may not enjoy conditions at Haydock and that may have been the case as he failed to trouble the judge, prompting most firms to quote 25/1 about his Grand National prospects.

Finally, back at Ascot things got even better for Nicholls as Far West beat River Maigue to advertise his Triumph Hurdle credentials.

Ladbrokes, BetVictor and Boylesports make him 5/1 co-favourite along with Our Conor and Rolling Star, leaving Coral as the standout firm at 7/1.