Thistlecrack Has The World At His Feet [Thoroughbred Daily News]

Thistlecrack Has The World At His Feet
Thursday, March 17, 2016 | Back to: Shared News, Today's Edition
By Emma Berry | Thoroughbred Daily News

A spotless record this season for the outstanding staying hurdler Thistlecrack (GB) (Kayf Tara {GB}) was further enhanced by his demolition of 11 rivals in the G1 Ryanair World Hurdle on Thursday. Describing his foot-perfect round on the odds-on favourite as “a wonderful thrill,” winning jockey Tom Scudamore said, “How it looked was how it felt. To be able to ride a horse like that, it was very special. I have never ridden anything like him. They were going fast enough in a championship race and, at the top of the hill, there were only three in it and then very quickly there was only one in it. He’s just outstanding.”

Thistlecrack’s dominance ensured that he was seven lengths clear of Alpha Des Obeaux (Fr) (Saddler Maker {Ire}) at the line, with another 22 lengths separating the runner-up and the gallant 11-year-old Bobs Worth (Ire) (Bob Back), the former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner who outpointed last year’s World Hurdle victor Cole Harden (Ire) (Westerner {Ire}) for third place.

Now eight, Thistlecrack has accrued an impressive haul this season, with two Grade 1 and two Grade 2 victories to add to last year’s triumph in the G1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. Having raced only once at five and twice as a 6-year-old, all three of those starts coming on the level in bumpers, the gelding has fully repaid the patience shown by trainer Colin Tizzard and owners John and Heather Snook. Since taking to hurdling, he has won seven of his 10 starts.

“He has grown into himself in the last 12 months and has gone from being a very nice horse to being a superstar,” said Tizzard, who combines training with dairy farming from his home in Dorset. He added, “It’s a relief really more than anything. There has been so much hype and pressure in the last few weeks. Every day is another one ticked off. But this just goes to show that you don’t have to be one of the big battalions. Any yard can have a superstar and sometimes these horses find you.”

Thistlecrack is not, however, the only superstar in the Tizzard yard as the stable is also responsible for one of the strong fancies in today’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. The much-loved Cue Card (GB) (King’s Theatre {Ire}) stands to win a £1 million bonus if he manages to land the Cheltenham feature as he has also won this season’s G1 Betfair Chase and G1 William Hill King George VI Chase. The cash prize for claiming steeplechasing’s ‘Triple Crown’ was put up last year by Jockey Club Racecourses in honour of the late Kauto Star (Fr), who won all three races in the 2006-07 season.

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Transatlantic Challenge Sweetened…

A $500,000 bonus–coined the Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge–was announced last year for any horse that could win the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, Tennessee and Cheltenham’s Ryanair World Hurdle in the same calendar year, and the incentive was sweetened Thursday when Nashville’s Volunteer State Horsemen’s Foundation raised the prize of their contest by $50,000 to $200,000.

“We saw this as a way to reignite the trans-Atlantic rivalry that has existed since the 19th century, and the Challenge has been very well received,” said Iroquois Steeplechase Chairman Dwight Hall. “Our goal is to offer an international opportunity for horsemen on both sides of the Atlantic. We recognize the expense involved so we raised our purse to make the challenge more attractive.”

He added, “A foreign horse could recoup its travel expenses with a third-place finish in our race, or earn much more if it were to win. Altogether, considering their individual purses and the Brown Advisory Challenge bonus, a successful horse could earn more than $900,000.”

The Ryanair World Hurdle took place Thursday at Cheltenham and was won by Thistlecrack (GB) (Kayf Tara {GB}). The Iroquois Steeplechase is set for May 14. Both are three-mile races.

Read the full article here.