Tizzard: the old Thistlecrack is back and could win the Gold Cup | Horse Racing News
Thistlecrack, pictured with Tom Scudamore after his World Hurdle success, could still win the Gold Cup, according to Joe Tizzard
Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
One of those closest to the sport’s former premier pin-up Thistlecrack has made clear his belief that the star stayer could yet return to the glory days of old and claim a famous victory in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Trainer Colin Tizzard’s son Joe, who partnered Thistlecrack in the first race of what has developed into a glittering career, on Saturday gave a rosy assessment of the horse’s fourth-place performance in Tuesday’s 32Red King George VI Chase and what it means to his Gold Cup claims.
Having been ruled out of last season’s festival highlight with a tendon injury, Thistlecrack was having his first run in ten months when a soundly beaten fifth over hurdles at Newbury on December 1.
Thistlecrack (right), pictured alongside Might Bite and Bristol De Mai before Tuesday’s King George
Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
That effort was left behind at Kempton, where the soon-to-be ten-year-old finished just under six lengths behind Might Bite having travelled smoothly for much of the race.
When asked if the hero of the now Stayers’ Hurdle in 2016 could defy his current best quote of 16-1 and win the Gold Cup, Joe Tizzard said: “On the visual evidence of what we saw in the King George, yes I do.
“It’s a job to gauge him at the moment, to be perfectly honest. You would like to think that if he stepped forward as much as he did from his first run to his second run, and that there’s a bit more to come, it doesn’t put us too far away.
“The way he travelled and jumped was the nice part to watch. He certainly looked like the Thistlecrack of old. We were disappointed with his run at Newbury, it’s as simple as that, but we were much more pleased with him at Kempton.”
Elaborating on the latest Christmas display by last year’s King George hero, Tizzard added: “I thought it was another step forward. I was chuffed to bits with him. We’re getting there. It was a good, strong run and if he hadn’t clouted two out he might have been close to finishing second.
“He was a tired horse the next day. He was lying down in his stable when I went to feed him the next morning, so he had a race.
“We haven’t really decided yet what we’re going to do plan-wise. We would like to get another run into him because he’s only had the two so far, but whether that will come too soon, we’ll have to decide. It’s early days but that was a lovely step forward.”
Asked if Thistlecrack could be given an additional entry in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle, Tizzard said: “That hasn’t been discussed actually. In my book he’s only pencilled in for the Gold Cup – but it could change.”
The Gold Cup is not an option for Fox Norton, who was uncharacteristically below par when pulled up in the King George.
Fox Norton: was sore after pulling up in the King George and will have entries in both the Champion Chase and the Ryanair at the Cheltenham Festival
“Fox Norton was disappointing,” said Tizzard. “He was a little bit stiff the next day but that’s a thing we’ve had before. You’ll see him at Cheltenham. We’ll enter him in the Champion Chase and the Ryanair.”
River in good nick before return to action
Shorter in the Gold Cup betting with odds ranging from 8-1 to 12-1 is the 2017 Cheltenham third Native River, who could make his belated reappearance in Newbury’s Betfair Denman Chase, a prize he took last season.
“We don’t have a definite plan yet,” said Tizzard. “His owners were in on Friday and we talked about it but nothing definite was decided.
“He’ll have one run before the Gold Cup. Whether we come back to Newbury for the Denman or find a hurdle race for him, I don’t know. There’s a lot being juggled about at the moment. He’s in good nick.”
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