Thistlecrack skips Punchestown Festival, so is chasing in his future?
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | April 11, 2016
Thistlecrack’s dominance of the 3m hurdling division this term continued at Aintree when the Colin Tizzard gelding made all to take the Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle on Grand National day.
Sent off a long odds-on favourite for that contest because of a string of classy displays first at Newbury, then Ascot and twice at Cheltenham, including his World Hurdle romp; Thistlecrack was crowned horse of the National Hunt season, but misses the Punchestown Festival at the end of April.
Trainer Tizzard always intended to double his stable star up at Aintree and then over to Ireland for the World Series Champion Stayers Hurdle, but he will now rest ahead of next term and there are big decisions to make.
Scu says: “As good as anything I have seen”
“I’ve had harder days walking the dogs,” said regular jockey and Coral horse racing ambassador Tom Scudamore after the Stayers’ Hurdle success. “I said to Colin that he’d become so good this season that he was almost at the levels of a Big Buck’s.”
“Before the race I said the only thing they could try and do was to mess the race up. He is the best I have ridden and as good as anything I have seen.”
High praise indeed, but will Thistlecrack be given the opportunity to similarly dominant 3m hurdle races for several years after such a flawless campaign?
Big Buck’s won four consecutive World Hurdle and Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle doubles from 2009 to 2012, and took Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle in each of those four years, plus three Long Walk Hurdle victories between 2009 and 2011 before not bothering to defend that Ascot crown.
Break Big Buck’s record or go over big fences?
Add in a couple of Cleeve Hurdle successes (2009 and 2012) on Cheltenham Festival Trials Day, and it shows just how far Thistlecrack still has to go to match or even try and better Paul Nicholls trained legend Big Buck’s.
Tizzard and owners John and Heather Snook face a summer of decisions, as connections are understood to be considering sending Thistlecrack chasing next season, and why not?
Coral are prepared for either eventuality. Should Thistlecrack remain over hurdles, then he is a firm 2/1 favourite to retain his World Hurdle crown at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
If, however, Tizzard is to take him over the bigger obstacles, then it surely with one eye on challenging for Prestbury Park’s premier prize, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Thistlecrack is now available at an enticing 8/1 in the ante post market.