Can Thistlecack Make Up For Lost Time in the Cheltenham Gold Cup?
Colin Tizzard enjoyed a record-breaking season in 2017, collecting over £2 million in prize money, but one of his stable-stars Thistlecrack suffered a frustrating year after missing the majority of the National Hunt campaign through injury. The nine-year-old is back and reportedly working well, and he is fancied to make a big impact in the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Source: Horse Racing News via Twitter
A torn tendon was to blame for Thistlecrack’s absence from the 2017 Cheltenham Festival but the Tizzard yard appeared happy with their chasers progress ahead of the National Hunt season. At the end of August, Joe Tizzard described Thistlecrack as looking “a picture” before later adding, “his legs are perfect”.
The multiple Grade One winner is likely to feature in Kempton’s King George on Boxing Day before heading to Prestbury Park at the beginning of March. He has been chalked up as joint favourite for the prestigious event alongside last season’s victor Sizing John but very few chasers are able to follow up their success in the Gold Cup.
Many punters are looking to forward to seeing Thistlecrack back in action with the Grade One regular last seen finishing second behind the late Many Clouds in January’s Cotswold Chase. He’s also a thoroughly competent hurdler with eight wins from 11 starts over the smaller obstacles and the yard have hinted that a prep race may be required in order to ease him back into competitive action. His last appearance over hurdles came in April 2016 at Aintree.
Thistlecrack is undoubtedly a quality horse but one or two jumping errors at Chepstow in October 2016 led to concerns amongst fans and backers however the nine year old was largely foot-perfect in the King George with regular jockey Tom Scudamore getting the best out of the imperious chaser.
Source: Cheltenham Festival via Twitter
Whilst the King George may come a little too soon for Thistlecrack, many fans believe he’ll be warmed up and ready for a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup which takes place on the 16th March 2018. It’s set to be a terrific week of National Hunt action with other notable contests including the Champion Hurdle, the Arkle and the Ryanair Chase and punters will relish the chance to assemble a Cheltenham accumulator for each day of the festival. Many sites will be enhancing the odds on popular horse racing accas throughout the four day extravaganza at Prestbury Park and Thistlecrack will certainly be a cornerstone of many multiple bets.
Whilst Sizing John is viewed as Thistlecrack’s classiest rival in the early Gold Cup betting, Willie Mullins is likely to send a strong string over from Ireland with Douvan and Yorkhill likely to play a big part in the finish. Colin Tizzard is also considering throwing Native River into the mix whilst Might Bite for Nicky Henderson may also feature. The latter is likely to provide strong competition to Thistlecrack in the King George on December 26th.
The Gold Cup is set to be a cracker of a race and the Tizzard yard will be determined to make up for lost time with Thistlecrack. Keeping the nine year old injury free will be key but fans are looking forward to seeing the chaser back in action and he could be the one to keep on side in the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018.