Thistlecrack outjumped his stablemate, Cue Card, to win the prestigious King George VI Chase at Kempton today (26 December) in remarkable style.
The Colin Tizzard-trained novice chaser was facing only his fourth start over fences and it was his first run outside of novice company.
Paul Nicholls’ Silviniaco Conti led the field of five initially, before Thistlecrack and last year’s winner Cue Card came to the fore during the second circuit.
Under a brilliant ride from Tom Scudamore, Thistlecrack did produce a few usual exuberant jumps during the three-mile race — drawing gasps from the Kempton crowds. However, a sudden burst of speed round the final bend carried them clear from the rest of the field, to win by three-and-a-quarter lengths to Cue Card — a close-fought second.
“He’s on his own. Between myself, my father and grandfather we’ve had about 3,000 winners and he’s the best one of the lot. I never imagined it would be as easy as that,” said Tom of the John and Heather Snook-owned gelding.
Dorset trainer Colin Tizzard, who’s been on spectacular form this season and had the fortunate dilemma of both horses running in the £209,000 Grade One Christmas showcase, added: “They’ve done very well — I’ve sat on the fence for six weeks but you’ve all seen what Thistlecrack is capable of.
“It was just a matter of his jumping — it was brilliant when he was long and brilliant when he was in tight.”
It may have been an easy win for the eight-year-old son of Kayf Tara, but behind him there was a battle for the runner-up spot.
Cue Card, under his regular jockey Paddy Brennan, just held on by a short head to dual King George victor Silviniaco Conti.
Lizzie Kelly and Tea For Two held on for a close fourth, while the Nicky Henderson-trained Josses Hill finished fifth.
The two Colin Tizzard stable stars could go head-to-head in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival in March — for which Thistlecrack is now favourite.