Thistlecrack and Tom Scudamore winning the King George
PICTURE:Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Scott Burton 8:00PM 21 FEB 2017
TOM SCUDAMORE’S Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup dream was dramatically dashed on Tuesday as Thistlecrack was ruled out the festival, a blow the rider described as a “real sickener”.
Just 57 days after the pair put in a breathtaking round of jumping in the King George – an experience which the rider described as the best of his career – Scudamore, and racing as a whole, was faced with the stark reality that Cheltenham and the other spring festivals will not be graced by Britain’s leading chaser.
Scudamore said: “It is a real sickener and there is not a lot more you can add. You’re hoping everyone can get there in one piece. You see it happen to everyone else and you pray it’s not going to happen to you and, unfortunately, it has.”
For all that the Tizzard team and Thistlecrack’s owners, John and Heather Snook, have been engagingly open with the press and public on the subject of Thistlecrack throughout his career, Scudamore has been the nine-year-old’s most eloquent and energetic cheerleader.
From Thistlecrack’s emergence at Aintree two seasons ago as a staying novice hurdler with huge potential, to his stature this season as the highest-rated chaser in the land, Thistlecrack has ascended the racing pyramid alongside his perennial partner Scudamore, and they looked set to start the sport’s most prestigious race as hot favourites.
However, rather than dwell on his misfortune the jockey was quick to think of the other members of the Venn Farm team when learning of the tear to Thistlecrack’s tendon on arrival at Wetherby on Tuesday afternoon.
“I feel sorry for everyone in the yard and, even though Joe and Colin have other runners in the race, it doesn’t make it any easier,” said Scudamore.
“For John and Heather as well as Claire and Paul who look after him all the time, it’s very disappointing for everybody. Most of all I’m disappointed for the horse because he won’t get to compete in the Gold Cup.
“Every time you ride these good horses you hope they can be in a position to show just how good they are. He is not going to be able to do that this year and, while hopefully he will be able to bounce back, it is a real sickener for everyone.”
Get full reaction to Thistlecrack’s injury in Wednesday’s Racing Post. Try it on iPad, available from 8pm.