Thistlecrack: World Hurdle winner is ante-post favourite for the Gold CupPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Overnight rain before Thistlecrack chase debut
THE rain arrived at Chepstow on Monday and overnight into Tuesday morning to leave trainer Colin Tizzard satisfied the ground was suitable to let Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack loose for his debut over fences.
The official going at the track is now good to soft, good in places (from good) following 8mm of rain in the last 24 hours with light rain forecast to continue through the morning.
Last season's World Hurdle winner will face four rivals and 18 fences in the 2m7f131y novice chase at 3.35.
Tizzard said on Monday: "It's raining and it's going to be absolutely fine. I'm not 20 miles from Chepstow at the moment and it's pouring down, so I'm sure it will be fine there too. We're going there expecting to run.
"He's in lovely form and has done plenty of work with him in the last fortnight. He's fit enough and he's schooled well so let's get on with it.”
'Should ride good to soft'
Clerk of the course Keith Ottesen expected more rainfall overnight although reported it was still raining at the track on Tuesday morning.
Ottesen said: "We actually had less rain than we were expecting overnight but it's still raining here now. It's wet out there, there's plenty of moisture and it's not going to dry out really quick. It should ride good to soft.
"Colin started out Cue Card over fences at this meeting five years ago and Native River ran on this day last year so it's great Colin likes to run his star horses here. Although it's not out of the ordinary to see one of the Tizzard's star chasers, it's nevertheless an undoubted thrill to have Thistlecrack set to make his debut here and great for our racegoers. Fingers crossed Colin will let him run!"
Odds-on to win by 25 lengths
Thistlecrack is a best-priced 1-7 to win in South Wales, but BetVictor go 4-6 about the eight-year-old's chances of hammering his rivals by a distance of 25 lengths or more. His biggest margin of victory last season was a twelve-length success in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January.
Meanwhile, news of his intended first start over fences has also seen him draw market support for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with Coral cementing him as favourite after cutting him from 7-1 into 6-1 for the Festival showpiece.
BetVictor spokesman Jack Milner said: "It is staggering to think Thistlecrack, as brilliant as he was over timber, heads the market for the Gold Cup despite yet to jump a fence in public but he has been strongly supported since entering the market for jump racing's blue riband at 16-1 in the spring."