Trained by Colin Tizzard, there is little doubt that Thistlecrack is one of the most exciting horses in training. He has an air of quality about him and seeing him cruise upside good horses with the engine that he has is a real thrill.
After impressing on his first five chase starts in the 2016/17 an injury ruled Thistlecrack out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup of 2017. It was a huge disappointment for racing fans and connections at Colin Tizzard’s yard. Many had him down as the winner of that trophy, and the horse who would dominate the division for many years.
In December 2017 it was time for the horse to return to action. He went first over hurdles as a preparation for the King George, a race he won the season before. He ran relatively well in the hurdle race, although he was far from fit and faded towards the end. That put him spot on for Kempton, where he would take on some of the best chasers and we would see if he was back to his best.
Unfortunately, on Boxing Day he was only able to finish fourth. Shortly after that race, it was confirmed that the horse had picked up another injury. That meant he would miss another Gold Cup at Cheltenham. The timeline for this injury left him out for the season but also gave him a summer to rest and get ready for the upcoming 2018/19 campaign.
Now 10 years old two injuries have forced him to miss large periods of the last two seasons. The Tizzard stable has decided to give Thistlecrack a very busy campaign, which is great for fans who have missed him.
He is scheduled to start the season at Wetherby, in the Charlie Hall Chase. The plan is to then move on to Haydock for the Betfair Chase. After this, he will return to Kempton for the King George, before having a run that is undecided and then a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
After the Gold Cup, both Aintree and Punchestown have been mentioned as potential targets, but those won’t be decided upon until nearer the time. That would be a six-race plan for the horse, putting him in all of the big races against his big rivals.
After missing two chances to win a Gold Cup with Thistlecrack, it is no surprise to see the yard put together a strong campaign for him this coming season. He does have a little to prove after being off the track through injury and it has been nearly two years since we last saw him win a race.
Those watching will be hoping to see Thistlecrack show his old spark and prove that he is back, setting up what would be a thrilling Gold Cup. With horses like Native River and Might Bite setting a very high standard, can Thistlecrack come back to rule the chasing division for one last time?