Thistlecrack on his way to winning the Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Aintree, Saturday
Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m½f 5yo+
THISTLECRACK captured a third Grade 1 of the season as he made all in the Liverpool Stayers’ Hurdle and continue his 100 per cent record for 2015-16.
Tom Scudamore sent Thistlecrack to the front straight away, a marked departure from how he had been ridden earlier in the season, but there was never a moment’s doubt and he beat Shaneshill by a widening seven lengths without coming off the bridle.
Though he was the 2-7 favourite, Thistlecrack’s ease of victory underlines that he is the undoubted champion of the staying hurdle division and his season now mirrors so many completed by the great Big Buck’s.
“What a wonderful racehorse,” said winning jockey Tom Scudamore. “I didn’t want it to be a falsely-run race and decided to be the masters of our own destiny by going out in front. He’s the best I’ve ever ridden and that performance was as good as anything I’ve seen.”
Tempted by chasing
Thistlecrack is 5-2 with William Hill for next year’s World Hurdle, but would be an awful lot shorter were he certain to remain over hurdles. He is 10-1 for the Gold Cup and trainer Colin Tizzard in the aftermath was reluctant to commit either way.
Of Thistlecrack’s performance, Tizzard said: “Coming down to the second last it looked like he almost bolted! Christ alive he made a mistake but he never came off the bridle.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. He doesn’t appear to have a bottom to him and you can go as fast as you like for as long as you like. He’ll go to Punchestown now.”
By going to Punchestown, Thistlecrack will follow stablemate Cue Card in competing in championship events at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown.
Willie Mullins had to settle for second with Shaneshill, but was full of praise for the winner.
“He is super. What a strong, mature horse he is,” said Mullins of Thistlecrack. “To look as well as he does at the end of a long season is amazing.”
Of his runner-up, Mullins added: “After he finished second in the RSA I decided we should try to make him into a staying hurdler. I’m not sure he has the scope for fences. I think he’s happier over hurdles but he could mix and match next season.
“I just hope Colin Tizzard doesn’t change his mind about sending Thistlecrack over fences next season!”
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