Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack faces stern test at Newbury

Thistlecrack makes his third start over fences in the bet365 Novices' Chase

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( Thistlecrack faces stern test at Newbury By Keith Melrose 11:01AM 25 NOV 2016

CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP favourite Thistlecrack will face just four rivals on his third start over fences in the bet365 Novices' Chase at Newbury on Saturday.

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The Grade 2, registered as the Worcester Novices' Chase, will still pose the sternest test yet for last year's World Hurdle winner, with smart performers Ibis Du Rheu and Bigbadjohn in opposition along with Pinnacle Panda and Tajseer, who both look up against it.

Terrestrial viewers will not be able to see the Gold Cup favourite in action live, as the race is due off at 12.55, some 20 minutes before More4 begins its broadcast. Channel 4's programme starts at 2.30.

Thistlecrack has made an unblemished start to his chasing career, with bloodless successes at Chepstow at Cheltenham. A couple of hair-raising jumps at the Open meeting two weeks ago led trainer Colin Tizzard to prescribe more experience for his stable star.

He is expected to go off a short-priced favourite once more, for a race won in recent years by Grands Crus and Native River, this year's Hennessy favourite.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Ibis Du Rheu is likely to be the main danger. He won the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival and is a half-brother to the classy Saphir Du Rheu, a leading danger to Native River in the Hennessy.

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