Thistlecrack: will have fourth chase start in King George
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Baxter 10:46AM 19 DEC 2016
THE most eagerly anticipated clash of the jumps season is on, as Thistlecrack was confirmed to take on superstar stablemate Cue Card in next Monday’s 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton.
With the news confirmed, Thistlecrack was made as short as 11-8 for the King George with BoyleSports and Paddy Power, having been a 3-1 shot earlier on Monday.
Connections had been debating long and hard about whether to let Thistlecrack step out of novice company into a race where he will face, among others, the defending King George champion Cue Card.
But John Snook, who owns last season’s World Hurdle hero with his wife Heather, said Thistlecrack’s performances over fences so far were enough to convince them he was ready for the challenge.
Confirming the match jumps fans are dying to see, as he told Somerset Live: “It’s definitely the King George for Thistlecrack – it’s always been my intention to go that way provided the horse has been coping with jumping fences and we think he has.
“His win at Newbury on Hennessy day confirmed that – there was nothing wrong with that performance – and provided he’s 110 per cent on the day we’ll be in the King George.”
Trainer Colin Tizzard has given his “full backing” to the decision to let his two yard heavyweights do battle, and said on At The Races: “We’ve been saying we’d leave a decision for as long as we could but felt it was only fair we told told people what we intended to do.
“The owners want to go for the King George and I’m full backing with it. Both sets of owners have sat down and talked about it. Both horses are in cracking form so should take their chance.”
Cue Card (right) defeats Vautour in last year’s King George VI Chase
PICTURE: Getty Images
While the addition of Thistlecrack adds extra spice to an already intriguing King George, it also has potential repercussions for the £1 million Jockey Club Triple Crown bonus.
Cue Card won the first leg, the Betfair Chase, but his bonus hopes would be dashed should Thistlecrack triumph.
Discussing their role as potential party poopers, Snook added: “This is championship racing. As far as we are concerned Jean Bishop [Cue Card’s owner] and us are friends as are Garth and Anne Broom of Brocade who own [Hennessy winner] Native River at the yard.
“Native River could be in the Gold Cup too and if he was, we’d have no objections. Colin is very fortunate to have these lovely horses and is spoilt for choice.”