Thistlecrack just like vintage Kauto Star says impressed Nicholls
At the end of a race he has won a record nine times Paul Nicholls was forced to resort to words once exclusive to his biggest stars as he saluted a brilliant winning performance from Thistlecrack.
The trainer, who saddled the great Kauto Star to win the King George five times, came much nearer than he could have entertained beforehand to winning a tenth as two-time winner Silviniaco Conti rallied strongly to be third.
But he also recognised the race had given birth to a new superstar of the chasing ranks in Thistlecrack, who he said was "just like watching Kauto at his best".
He said: "He was awesome. He was brave at one or two, but he was awesome. At the moment Thistlecrack is the best around by a long way. He has put them all to the sword there. Cue Card couldn't go with him. It was an amazing performance. He looks like Kauto Star when he was at his best, without a shadow of a doubt.
"The only thing that is going to get in the way of him not winning the Gold Cup would be the fences. It will take some horse to beat him, especially as he gets more and more experience. He travels, has the ability to put himself right and be long. He's a proper horse."
Paddy Brennan tried everything on Cue Card to put Thistlecrack under pressure but the pair were toiling on the final bend, though battled on to hold off Silviniaco Conti for second place.
"He gave his all," said Brennan. "The ground always felt on the quicker side. A bit like Wetherby, I was never that happy, but take nothing away from the winner; he was unbelievable the way he did things there today.
"I wasn't travelling as well as I'd like to but Thistlecrack does things with such ease. He reminds me of the greats, Denman and Kauto Star. I'm really proud of Cue Card, though."
Silviniaco Conti was beaten a short head for second, with Tea For Two a head back in fourth place.
The third home's return to form after finishing more than 40 lengths behind Cue Card in the Betfair Chase left Nicholls unsure where to target him next.
"In another stride he would have been second," he said. "He has just lost a bit of pace. He stayed on really strong there and he kept at it all the way.
"If you thought he'd take to Aintree you'd say what a Grand National trial that was. I just asked Noel Fehily if I should enter him for Aintree and he said, 'Yes, you've got to'."
Nicholls continued: "We ran him too quick last time. He needs to be fresh and you would nearly put that up with some of his best runs on that evidence. If the ground was like last year he would be highly likely to go for the Ascot race he won last year, but where we go long term I don't know.
"He could be one you could miss Cheltenham and Aintree with and go to Punchestown. I'm sure there is a still a big one in him."
Tea For Two, at seven a year younger than Thistlecrack, thrilled Lizzie Kelly, who predicted even better in 12 months' time.
"I never thought we'd be that close," said the jockey. "I thought I had Cue Card but he stayed on better when my horse's challenge petered out a bit.
"That was the quickest I've ever been in my entire life. He's a horse for the future. We'ill come back next year and might just win it."