Fourth Crack at King George Confirmed for Thistlecrack
Thistlecrack is a 16/1 shot with Coral for the 2019 King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day after connection confirmed that the 11-year-old would run in the Grade 1 showpiece 3m contest for a fourth consecutive time.
The John and Heather Snook owned gelding , who won the Stayers’ Hurdle at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, won the race as a novice in 2016 when scoring eased down by 3 1/4 lengths from multiple Grade 1 winning stable companion Cue Card.
He then finished fourth to Might Bite in 2017 before running a blinder 12 months ago when beaten beaten just 1 1/2 lengths by Clan Des Obeaux.
Thistlecrack comes into this year’s renewal on the back of a fine length second to reigning Stayer’s Hurdler hero Paisley Park in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month.
He travelled ominously well into that conest and looked a real threat at the final flight until lack of race fitness took its toll close home.
Jo Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father Colin, told the Racing Post:
“He is going to Kempton He’s in good form and he’s been first and second in the race so that’s where he’s going to go.
“He ran really well at Newbury the other day and his form in the race is really strong. He’s not getting any younger but he’s in good nick and he schooled lovely this morning so he deserves to take his chance.”
Given his proven form in the race Thistlecrack could well be the each-way play in the race at the current odd son offer. His stablemate Lostintransaltion is currently vying for favouritism with the Paul Nicholls trained Cyrname – the highest rated chaser in training who ended Altior’s 19-race unbeaten streak at Ascot on seasonal reappearance.
Both can be backed at 2/1 whilst next best in is last year’s winner Clan Des Obeaux, a 9/2 shot with Ladbrokes.
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Denman Chase Among Native River Options
Tizzard also revealed that 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River, who came third in the race 12 months ago, would not be in this year’s line-up.
There had also been talk of him shouldering top-weight in the Coral Welsh National, which he won in 2016, at Chepstow on December 27.
However, that race has also been ruled out for the Brocade Racing owned nine-year-old who scored in runaway fashion on return to action in the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase at Aintree.
“We won’t see him over Christmas. We might run him once more before the Gold Cup. We could go for the Denman or the Cotswold Chase, something like that.”
Native River won the Denman Chase in 2018 en route to Gold Cup glory and his season will again revolve around a fourth crack at a race in which he also finished third to Sizing John in 2017 and fourth behind Al Boum Photo last year
Tough Choice for Cobden Between Cyrname and Clan Des De Obeaux
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is putting no pressure on stable jockey Harry Cobden as regards his King George VI Chase ride – either last year’s winner Clan Des Obeaux or chasing’s new star Cyrname.
Whichever way Cobden leans, the Ditcheat handler has replacements in mind for the discarded runner.
He told the Racing Post:
“If Harry rides Clan, Sean Bowen will ride Cyrname and if it is the other way round Sam Twiston-Davies will ride Clan.
“I said it would be hard to get off Cyrname, as he won those three good races and he looks a good ride – he goes forward and he jumps brilliantly.
“I think it’s a very hard call, as you also have last year’s winner and he looks great and he has had a great preparation. I’m not going to influence Harry at all. The only thing I’ve said is, ‘you ride what you think on the day has the best chance of winning’.”
I agree with Nicholls and believe that Cobden will find it very hard to desert Cyrname who is rated 8lb superior to Clan des Obeaux following his impressive success over Altior in the Grade 2 1965 Christy Chase at Ascot last month.
He is 1-1 from Kempton, loves going right handed and looks tailor-made for the 3m test at a track which is ideal for his slick jumping and front running tactics.