Thistlecrack a cut above Cleeve Hurdle rivals at Festival Trials
David Metcalf | January 29, 2016
Thistlecrack can cement his position at the head of the ante post betting for the World Hurdle with victory in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle on Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham (15.35).
The Colin Tizzard trained gelding showed progressive form last season, and relished the step up to 3m when running out the wide margin winner of the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.
Thistlecrack then backed that up with a cracking 1/2 a length second in a Grade 1 contest at the Punchestown Festival on his final start of the campaign, and judged on those performances looked staying hurdler going places.
That view has been confirmed with the seven-year-old winning both his starts this season in tremendous style to take his form to a new level.
Tizzard’s favourite worth the Crack
Thistlecrack destroyed a good field on return to action in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, travelling strongly throughout in the hands of jockey Tom Scudamore before taking up the running at the last and staying on strongly to beat Deputy Dan by six lengths.
Reigning World Hurdle champion Cole Harden finished a further 1/2 length back in third, and Thistlecrack was value for much more than the winning margin.
The son of Kayf Tara backed that up with an eight length drubbing of Reve De Sivola in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, where he took up the running two from home and scooted effortlessly clear.
Thistlecrack is currently 5/2 favourite with Coral for the Word Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday, Martch 17th, on the back of those successes and granted a clear round I expect him to win this with plenty to spare.
Could Camping Ground come through?
Camping Ground is a lightly-raced and improving sort trained by Robert Walford, so looks the obvious one to pick up the pieces if Thistlecrack fails to live up to expectations.
The gelding had some useful form to his name over fences and hurdles in France, and put in a career-best performance on just his fourth start for Walford when landing the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at this track earlier in the month.
Camping Ground took up the running three from home before stretching clear to easily beat Lil Rockerfeller by 11 lengths.
The six-year-old had Cole Harden a further nine lengths back in third, and it was a most taking performance which suggested Camping Ground was an exciting prospect who needed keeping firmly onside.
However, Cole Harden ran well below par in that race as far as I am concerned and the ultra-progressive Thistlecrack has by far the stronger form in the book at present.
Coral’s top tip: Thistlecrack rates a solid bet in the Cleeve Hurdle to get the better of Camping Ground and further enhance his World Hurdle claims.