Thistlecrack was a popular winner of the Ryanair World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival today (Thursday, 17 March).
The eight-year-old gelding put in an impressive performance to win the 3m hurdle race by seven lengths.
Thistlecrack, trained by Colin Tizzard, was sent off the even money favourite and won comfortably under jockey Tom Scudamore.
He ran strongly throughout before hitting the front one out and running on to win easily.
“I knew sitting there during the race how well I was travelling,” said Tom, who recorded his first win in the race.
“All the way through the race he was travelling well and took me into the race nicely and jumped superbly. That was a thrill of a lifetime. I have always held him in high regard.
“He has improved with every run. I was always very confident. It was all about getting him in the right positions and, once we jumped the last, it was fantastic. What a racehorse.
“To be able to ride a horse like that, it was very special. It was wonderful. I have never ridden anything like him. They were going fast enough in a championship race and, at the top of the hill, there was only three in it and then very quickly there was only one in it. He’s just outstanding.”
Colin added: “Thistlecrack has been like that all season and it is lovely to get him here in the same form.
“He is huge but was not always like that. John and Heather [Snook, his owners] have been very patient with him and he has grown into himself the past 12 months. He has gone from a very nice horse to a superstar.”
Alpha Des Obeaux, trained by Mouse Morris was in second. Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth put in a stirling effort to finish a further 22 lengths back in third at 33-1.
Last year’s winner Cole Harden, trained by Warren Greatrex, came home fourth.
“He ran his heart out, but the ground was perhaps a bit slower than last year,” said Warren. “Gavin [Sheehan] said he felt great, but couldn’t get away from them. He was passed late on for third, but I can’t knock my horse. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes chasing next year – he’s schooled over fences a couple of times.”
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Meanwhile Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci celebrated another good day at Cheltenham with a double — Vautour in the Ryanair Chase and Limini in the mares’ novices’ hurdle. Ruby and Willie also took the opener of the day, the JLT Novices’ Chase, with Black Hercules.
Vautour, who had originally been aimed at the Gold Cup, won the Ryanair Chase, which boasts a prize pot of £250,000, by six lengths ahead of stablemate Valseur Lido.
“I’ve always felt this horse is very special and he was magic today — hopefully we can keep him right,” said Ruby.