Desert Orchid's trainer David Elsworth excited by Thistlecrack

Thu 29 Dec 2016

David Elsworth believes that Thistlecrack has the ability to rule the staying chaser division for years to come following his sensational display in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Having trained the mighty Desert Orchid to win four renewals of the Boxing Day showpiece and the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Newmarket handler expects the Colin Tizzard-trained eight-year-old to hit similar heights over fences.

He said: "The purists have said that he is starting out a bit too late in life over fences but he has been very good so far.

"If you were going to put him in the deep end it was the ideal race to do it in as there were not many runners.

"He jumped very well and had no distractions. What he lacked in experience he gained in confidence and that is the biggest attribute when they are jumping fences.

"He is very high class and when you think back to the World Hurdle he hardly came off the bridle then. He had too much class for them at Kempton and his cruising speed is so good.

"I think the Gold Cup is a big ask as you don't know what will turn up on the day but his win at Kempton was against very good opposition.

"The Gold Cup is a proper test but come the day not many might take him on and it might be a repeat of Kempton.

"The world is his oyster and with experience he will only improve. I would be very excited if I was training him and I am looking forward to seeing him run again."

While drawing short on comparing Desert Orchid with National Hunt racing's newest superstar Elsworth feels that a clash between the pair at in the Kempton Grade One may have been a close run affair with both horses at the peak of their powers.

He added: "We lived in different eras and it is a little unfair to compare them. The only thing I can say is that most good chasers are now restricted to conditions races whereas in our day we would go for a Whitbread or an Irish National.

"Today the best horses don't have to go for handicaps as there are enough good conditions races around for them and I suppose that is sort of an advantage.

"Desert Orchid was very flamboyant and very good round Kempton and he would have been in there with a shot. I feel fairly fortunate he (Thistlecrack) was not around when Desert Orchid was as you would not want him up your backside."

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