Thistlecrack sharpens-up for World Hurdle on Festival Trials Day

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The Cheltenham Festival. Pic: Dan Abraham – (Courtesy of Great British Racing).

By Simon Jackson.

World Hurdle favourite Thistlecrack is set to contest the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham enroute to this year’s Festival.

The eight-year-old heads a maximum field of nine runners for the three mile contest on Saturday which will be his last race before the World Hurdle.

Colin Tizzard’s charge is best-priced at 11-4 for the feature race at Cheltenham on St Patrick’s Day after thumping his rivals in the Grade 1 JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December which followed a six length victory at Newbury on his comeback.

At Ascot Thistlecrack tracked the leader and three-time Long Walk Hurdle winner Reve De Sivola for the bulk of the journey before taking it up two fences out. He extended his advantage on the run-in to win easily for Tom Scudamore and the manner of the eight-length victory delighted Tizzard.

“He is a big, strong, powerful horse and I was expecting that sort of performance and nothing less,” the trainer said.

“He found improvement in the spring and we thought it could have been for the better ground, but it is the fact that he has gone up to three miles.”

The victory strengthened Tizzard’s hand at the Festival where he will also be represented by Cue Card who is a leading contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after his courageous win in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

However Tizzard has revealed that he has no plans for Thistlecrack to join Cue Card by racing over fences in the near future.

“He [Thistlecrack] looks like a chaser and his dam was a good stayer over fences,” Tizzard continued.

“He is doing a very good job in this discipline and picking up an awful lot of money.

“The competition is probably not so hot so we will stay on this route this year and I see no reason to change so I don’t think we will ask him that question yet.”

Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.