Colin Tizzard considering hurdling pipe-opener for Thistlecrack

Fri 13 Oct 2017

Star chaser Thistlecrack could make his seasonal reappearance over hurdles as he prepares to repeat last year's victory in the King George VI Chase.

Colin Tizzard revealed that his nine-year-old is well on the road to recovery from a minor tendon injury which thwarted his bid to land last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Tizzard said told Attheraces.com: "It (the injury) was enough to stop us going for the Gold Cup but he is one of the best horses I have trained. He is back cantering and will have one run before the King George.

"There is a possibility that his prep run could be over hurdles. He was brilliant in the King George last year and hopefully we can get him back there in the same form."

Thistlecrack was last seen over hurdles in April 2016 when landing the Liverpool Stayers Hurdle at Aintree, his fifth consecutive win in a season that saw him crown champion staying hurdler having also won the Ryanair World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Last season he scaled even greater heights when winning Kempton's King George on just his fourth start over fences before going down by a head in a thrilling battle with Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, after which he was found to have heat in his off-fore tendon and a minor tear was detected.

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A possible comeback race for Thistlecrack could be the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on 2 December – a race he won in 2015 – before heading to Kempton on Boxing Day. He is currently top-priced at 9/2 and 6/1 for this season's King George and Gold Cup respectively.

Tizzard also had news of popular chaser Cue Card, who is on also on course for the King George but will first bid for a fourth win in Haydock's Betfair Chase on 25 November.

"He is well forward and I think we will go the same route as last year." Tizzard said. "He has come back as good as ever and is very fit and we will go to Wetherby for the Charlie Hall and then to Haydock for the Betfair Chase. We will always do right by him and the moment he tells us he has had enough we will stop but he is as good as he has ever been and he will have the same campaign at Christmas for him with the King George his target."

The trainer also revealed that his Grade One winning chaser Fox Norton could also be entered for the King George. He explained: "He will be given an entry in the King George too just in case the other horses don't run there. The only time we stepped up in trip was at Aintree and he ran superb to win the Melling Chase over two and a half miles. He is a very classy horse and we will start at two miles but if gets beat a few times we will step him up in trip."

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