ELATED Tom Scudamore hailed World Hurdle winner Thistlecrack’s “mighty” jumping debut at Chepstow as connections dream of Cheltenham Gold Cup glory.
Trained by Colin Tizzard, the eight-year-old made every yard of running in the Aspen Waite Complete Business Growth Service Novices’ Chase.
Thistlecrack jumped most of the 18 fences with exuberance and lengthened well when briefly challenged on the run to the last.
Sent off the red-hot 1-6 odds-on favourite, Thistlecrack is set to make a quick reappearance at Cheltenham’s prestigious Open meeting next month.
The magnificent Coneygree won the Gold Cup as a novice in 2015 – and Thistlecrack did not give his supporters any grounds for concern.
“He was fantastic, he’s done everything we’ve asked of him all the way through,” said Scudamore. “It was nice that Aqalim came to me over the last couple, but then he winged the last.
“He was neat and nimble, since the word go at home chasing has always been his game, but it’s on the course that matters.
“I’ve ridden plenty who have been naturals at home and you wouldn’t believe they’d ever seen an obstacle and vice versa.
“Every horse is different, they are all individuals, but he’s a mighty one. He can do things other horses can’t even dream of, he’s phenomenal and it’s tremendous to be associated with him.”
Tizzard, whose Cue Card attempts to defend the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on Saturday, could not have been happier.
“I don’t think the horse was nervous at all,” he said. “When he got in tight once he was really good, as if he’d been jumping for years. When he quickened up it was a beautiful performance.
“In two and a half weeks time no doubt we’ll go to Cheltenham. He hasn’t had a hard race and he needs the practice, he needs to jump at flat out pace, this was just a real good school round.
“If we’re going to the Gold Cup we need to know he can jump round Cheltenham, there’s no need to go small any more. A novice chase there (Cheltenham) with half a dozen runners would be perfect.
“I’m relieved, we’ve all been in racing long enough and it’s hard to deal with expectations.
“He had a good blow so he’ll improve for the run.”