Thistlecrack: could still run in the 32Red King George VI Chase
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Jon Lees 7:31AM 28 NOV 2016
THE possibility of Thistlecrack taking on his stablemate Cue Card in the 32Red King George VI Chase remains alive after connections on Sunday signalled there would be no quick decision over their Christmas plans.
Owner Heather Snook said she initially favoured the Feltham Chase at Kempton but was giving more serious thought to the challenge of the King George.
Trainer Colin Tizzard said he would try to reach a decision that was in the best interests of Thistlecrack, even though running in the King George would put at risk Cue Card’s bid for a £1 million bonus.
Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack is as big as 10-1 in the King George betting, for which last year’s winner Cue Card is 13-8 market leader after his victory in the Betfair Chase, the first leg of the Jockey Club Triple Crown.
Snook, who owns Thistlecrack with husband John, said on Sunday: “I haven’t a clue what we’ll do. There was nothing we could pick holes in yesterday and we will see how we all feel. We are lucky there are loads of options.
“I guess we’ll stay at three miles and go the route we all agree on. I woke up this morning thinking Feltham and then I watched the race again and thought, actually, what’s wrong with going out into open company.”
She added: “We count ourselves so lucky he has come this far. We are all on quite a high at the moment. I hope we keep our feet on the ground, and Colin is grounded enough to speak for us all.”
Thistlecrack produced his most impressive display over fences yet when dismissing Bigbadjohn by eight lengths in Saturday’s novice chase at Newbury on another memorable day for the stable, during which Native River also captured the Hennessy Gold Cup.
‘It’s not an easy decision’
Tizzard’s group of quality staying chasers grows by the week and he recognises that keeping them from running against each other between now and the Cheltenham Festival may be not be straightforward.
“We’ll take stock for a week or two,” he said. “I’m sure Thistlecrack will be declared at the six-day stage for both the King George and Feltham. The owners are the most important people so they most probably make the decision.
“I have to be fair to both sets of owners. In an ideal world you would have one in each but if Cue Card finished third or fourth in the King George we might think we could have won it if we’d run Thistlecrack.
“It’s not an easy decision, so long as both sets of owners understand where I am. I have to do the best by both sets. It’s something we’ll be broaching with them in the next few weeks.”