Thistlecrack ’50/50′ for King George
Colin Tizzard says he has far from ruled out the idea of Thistlecrack taking on stablemate Cue Card in the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Tom Scudamore looks behind him for dangers as Thistlecrack comes home clear at Newbury.
Seven days after Cue Card confirmed he remains as good as ever with an awesome display to win his third Betfair Chase at Haydock, Thistlecrack stretched his unbeaten record over fences to three with his most foot-perfect jumping display to date at Newbury.
With Cue Card a hot favourite to defend his King George crown – which would give him a second shot at the £1million Jockey Club Racecourses bonus he failed to secure after falling in last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup – it would not be difficult for Tizzard to split his aces, with the Kauto Star Novices' Chase on the same card an obvious alternative for Thistlecrack.
Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of victory, that seemed the way Tizzard was leaning at Newbury.
However, speaking on Sunday morning, the Dorset handler now rated the chances of Thistlecrack joining his stable companion in the Boxing Day highlight as "50-50".
Tizzard said: "My daughter led him and the other horses out this morning and he's absolutely fine.
"He was having his third run over fences and he's learning all the time. He was pretty much immaculate yesterday I thought. It was a joy to watch him jump.
"We'll see where we go, but we're talking about an eight-year-old, not a six-year-old, and he's at the peak of his powers.
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"I'm going to have talk it over with the owners, but I would say it's 50-50 between the two races (at Kempton) at the moment.
"All I can do is look after each horse and each set of owners.
"We're talking about the biggest races there are here. We're not talking about a novice chase at Exeter and we can run one there and wait another week with the other.
"These races only come around once a year."
As if that pair did not represent a formidable enough hand, Native River emerged as a potential third Tizzard challenger for the blue riband at 20/1 after his determined victory in Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup.
"I was absolutely delighted with him and he's fine this morning as well," said the trainer.
"We always knew he was a good horse, but he showed yesterday what a super horse he is and he's only six.
"He's a thorough stayer. He looked in trouble for a few strides on the run-in, but then he stayed on again and that's what some of these really good stayers do – they give you a little bit more when you ask them for it.
"He's a Hennessy winner and we'll be looking after him now. There's no obvious place to go, but I'd imagine we'll try and run him somewhere over Christmas.
"He's in the Welsh National, but that's usually run in bottomless ground and I don't think we'd want to do that to him.
"I suppose if he goes up a couple of pounds he could be a Grand National horse, but we might be aiming towards the Gold Cup.
"There are all sorts of races we could run him in and I just want to mull it over for a week or two."
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