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Five reasons why it may not all be plain sailing for Thistlecrack

James Burn looks for chinks in the Gold Cup favourite's formidable armour

Thistlecrack will be a big loss to the Cheltenham Festival
1 of 1

Thistlecrack is as short as 4-9 for the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase on Saturday and no bigger than evens for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, and his odds for the festival contest are likely to contract further should he come through his weekend test.

Oliver Sherwood, trainer of his Cotswold Chase rival Many Clouds, certainly thinks there is reason to believe the brilliant nine-year-old can be beaten, so here are some of the factors that may threaten his perfect record over fences on Saturday. 

Jumping

Thistlecrack can be like a jumbo jet taking off, but the one, big mistake he has made came when he left the ground way too early at Cheltenham in November and banked the fence. He learned quickly and was then fine in the King George, but connections have been keen for him to get some more Cheltenham experience hence why they're here.

Opposition

Cotswold Chase entries

No Cue Card to worry about, even if Thistlecrack's stablemate was not at his best in the King George, but last year's Cotswold 1-2 Smad Place and Many Clouds lie in wait for John and Heather Snook's gelding. And in 2015 Grand National hero Many Clouds, Thistlecrack is due to meet a rival reckoned to be as good as ever.

Stamina

Smad Place and Many Clouds have stamina in spades and with Silviniaco Conti among the Cotswold entries, the race could be a war of attrition. While Thistlecrack is a World Hurdle winner, some have questioned whether he was emptying at Kempton. That might, however, have just been Tom Scudamore showboating and easing down.

Stable form

The exploits of Thistlecrack will likely determine if Colin Tizzard can capture a first trainers' crown this term and the Dorset maestro has done little wrong so far this season, but things have not gone so smoothly recently. Tizzard has saddled only one winner - a 2-1 favourite - in the last two weeks and high-profile import Alary, spoken of as a Gold Cup horse, flopped in the Peter Marsh at Haydock on Saturday.

Fancy that

Another negative is no winning favourite has won the Cotswold Chase in the last nine years with Djakadam falling as a 5-6 chance 12 months ago. Thistlecrack, of course, doesn't read the stats and Team Tizzard were responsible for spoiling the party when Joe Lively struck at 11-1 in 2009.

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