Thistlecrack camp to push on to Kempton despite comprehensive defeat
Colin Tizzard and Tom Scudamore believe Thistlecrack was found out by lack of hard fitness after ten months off and a return to Kempton on Boxing Day remains the plan despite finishing fifth of six at Newbury.
A 7-2 chance for the 32Red King George VI Chase at the start of the day, the nine-year-old can now be backed at 10-1.
For much of the race all looked to be going well, for Thistlecrack was racing as enthusiastically as ever and still appeared to be going strongly three out.
However, the picture soon changed and, while the race-fit improver Beer Goggles was galloping on relentlessly to defy odds of 40-1, Thistlecrack was soon in trouble.
Assistant Joe Tizzard had insisted during the week that Thistlecrack was fit enough to do himself justice, but it was a different story in the unsaddling area where there was initially an air of disbelief at what the camp had seen.
Colin Tizzard said: "Until two out he looked like he could win it. Before the race, he did look burly and I think he ran like that. He ran a little bit fresh and I think we were absolutely right coming here before the King George. He's a big, heavy horse and just found it hard in the last two furlongs. As long as he comes out sound tomorrow we shall be going to the King George.
"I thought we'd done plenty of work and this was always going to be a prep race. We thought he was better or his class would see him through, but the race-hardened horses have beaten him. I'm mainly satisfied."
He added: "We rode him to win and he's got tired, but thank God he's had this race because where he's going to go next is going to be unforgiving as well. He didn't run badly. I don't know if he can win a King George off that – it's my job to get them fit on a given day."
Scudamore spoke in similar vein and said: "He was fresh and well and from the second-last he's got tired. I'd like to think he'll improve an awful lot for that and I'd say we've done the right thing coming here today. We'll see what the next few days and weeks bring."
If you are interested in this story, you might also like: