Is Thistlecrack Destined to Win the Cheltenham Gold Cup
January 27 - Without a shadow of a doubt, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the true highlights of the National Hunt season. Racing fans from all over the world will travel to the iconic venue on Friday 17th March in a bid to watch the best thoroughbreds in action over the gruelling three-mile two-furlong track.
Last year, Don Cossack stayed on better than anybody else to notch a maiden Gold Cup for trainer Gordon Elliott and the Gigginstown Stud yard but this year, there is only one name on people's lips... and that is Thistlecrack.
Colin Tizzard has a real diamond on his hands; and he knows it. Thistlecrack, a 12-time Class One winner in his own right, obliterated the entire field in the World Hurdle at the festival in 2016 and it is hard to envision the 9-year-old falling short in his bid over fences.
With the talented Tom Scudamore on board, Tizzard has an experienced jockey and he will do his utmost to keep Thistlecrack away from any potential danger; especially as he is still a novice chaser and one mistake could affect his confidence and focus.
At the time of writing, Thistlecrack is 8/11 in the bet365 horse racing betting odds for the race and it is easy to see why he is so short. Since making his debut over fences, the Tizzard-trained star has won four out of four - winning by a combined distance of 19 lengths.
His jumping has left a few punters with their hearts in mouths at times but his 'big stage' personality should?see him continue his fine run of form at the festival in March. Doubters have suggested that he has the talent?but lacks the experience needed to win the Gold Cup but that shouldn't be a problem, especially with a relatively weak field.
His best result over fences so far came in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day as he produced a devastating performance when beating?stablemate Cue Card to tick the first box in the Chase Triple.
Despite that defeat, Cue Card's owner has stated that he will be entered in the Gold Cup rather than downgrading to the Ryanair Chase - and this might just be the 11-year-old's last?chance to win the week's showpiece event.
Thistlecrack was far from perfect in the King George?but he had very few problems getting over the line, such is his class. If he has a flawless round of jumping at Cheltenham, the Gold Cup will surely be his. Cue Card was travelling strongly before falling at the third last in 2016 but he simply cannot compete with Thistlecrack's stamina and staying power.
With Don Cossack now retired, Coneygree likely to miss out through injury, Cue Card ageing and Vautour suffering a fatal fall whilst in training, the Gold Cup has opened itself up for the novice Thistlecrack.
Coneygree himself won as a novice two years ago and Tizzard's mount can emulate that achievement in 2017. Thistlecrack will have a prep run or two in the next few weeks but the World Hurdle winner looks well placed to add a Cheltenham Gold Cup to his glittering array of accomplishments.
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