Thistle­crack saun­ters to King Ge­orge glory

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Thistle­crack be­came the first novice to win the King Ge­orge VI steeple­chase yes­ter­day, can­ter­ing home at Kemp­ton Park on what was just his fourth race over fences.

The eight-year-old-win­ning his ninth suc­ces­sive race-took the race with jockey Tom Scu­d­amore by the scruff of the neck on the fi­nal bend eas­ing away from the de­fend­ing cham­pion Cue Card, trained also by Colin Tiz­zard, and jumped the last three fences safely to take the £119,000 (140,000eu­ros, $146,000). first prize.

Thistle­crack, the 11/10 favourite who was un­beat­able as a stay­ing hur­dler last sea­son, is now a short-priced ante-post favourite for the Chel­tenham Gold Cup in March. Cue Card-whose hopes of land­ing jump rac­ing’s Triple Crown and a mil­lion pound bonus dis­ap­peared with this de­feat-stayed on one-paced for sec­ond, three lengths in ar­rears, just ahead of two-time win­ner Sil­vini­aco Conti.

Scu­d­amore, whose fa­ther Peter and Michael were also renowned jock­eys, wiped away tears af­ter cross­ing the line and de­clared Thistle­crack to be a ‘phe­nom­e­non’ “I thought he would win but I never thought as eas­ily as this,” he said. “He’s a phe­nom­e­nal race­horse.

“He’s a great ride and I am thrilled to be a part of the team.” Scu­d­amore, 34, was un­equiv­o­cal when asked how high he rated him com­pared to other horses. “He’s on his own,” he said.

“Be­tween my grand­fa­ther (Michael), fa­ther (Peter) and my­self with thou­sands of win­ners he is in a dif­fer­ent class.” Tiz­zard, who ini­tially took up train­ing in 1994 as a sec­ondary pur­suit along­side his dairy farm­ing in the South West of Eng­land, said Thistle­crack’s dis­play had been quite spec­tac­u­lar.

“It was quite fright­en­ing to watch when Cue Card came up­sides him eight fences out,” said the 60-year-old. “But rac­ing is a fickle place as Thistle­crack showed. “We had al­ways in­tended to run him be­cause he is eight-years-old not five or six like a lot of novices. “He’s at the peak of his pow­ers at the mo­ment ,” added Tiz­zard, who plans to race him one more time at Chel­tenham be­fore the Fes­ti­val. Paddy Bren­nan brought Cue Card up­sides Thistle­crack early on the sec­ond cir­cuit to try and give his two years younger sta­ble­mate a go­ing over but three from home he cried enough and was left flail­ing.

“Some things aren’t pos­si­ble and trying to beat that horse to­day was one of the most im­pos­si­ble things I’ve ever tried to do,” said Bren­nan. “My lad was coura­geous to­day he stuck his head out af­ter the last and held on.

“Maybe we can turn things round at Chel­tenham but ev­ery­thing would need to go right and for the ground to be softer.” Tiz­zard, though, sug­gested that Bren­nan had over­played his hand too early. “That was maybe three fences too early,” said Tiz­zard. “But heck a race is a nerve wrack­ing busi­ness and no less so for a jockey,” added Tiz­zard, whose son Joe was a jockey be­fore re­tir­ing and be­com­ing his as­sis­tant. — AFP

KEMP­TON PARK: Thistle­crack rid­den by Tom Scu­d­amore wins The King Ge­orge VI Steeple Chase Race run dur­ing day one of the Win­ter Fes­ti­val at Kemp­ton Park race­course, Eng­land, yes­ter­day. Bri­tain was hail­ing a new king of jump rac­ing yes­ter­day af­ter Thistle­crack pro­duced a flaw­less per­for­mance to win the King Ge­orge VI Chase, one of the most pres­ti­gious races on the coun­try’s cal­en­dar. — AP

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