Thistlecrack team expect a test

Colin Tizzard is looking forward giving Thistlecrack some valuable experience over the Cheltenham fences in Saturday's mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase.

Thistlecrack was an impressive winner at Chepstow first time out over fences

The undoubted star of the staying hurdling division last season after winning each of his five starts, including a tremendous display the World Hurdle at the Festival, the eight-year-old headed into the current campaign as ante-post favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup despite having never jumped a fence in public.

He made his eagerly-anticipated chasing debut at Chepstow last month and following a near foot-perfect display, he is a general 7-2 chance for the blue riband next March.

Tizzard said: "We don't expect him to have it as easy as he did at Chepstow.

"It should be lovely, safe ground. It will be nice for him to get some experience over fences at Cheltenham and we obviously hope he'll jump round and win.

"You can over analyse these things sometimes. As far as we're concerned this is just the next step in his career.

"It was nice to see the rain during the week as we needed proper ground, we all do."

Thistlecrack is expected to head to Kempton on Boxing Day, should all go according to plan this weekend, for either the Kauto Star Novices' Chase or the King George VI Chase.

Jockey Tom Scudamore said: "Everyone throughout their whole career is looking for a horse like this to come along, so I'm very grateful he has and I want to make the most of it.

"He had done everything we had asked him at home prior to Chepstow and it was great to see him replicate that on the track.

"He has obviously got an entry in the King George, but we will see how this weekend goes first. There is a reason for running him over fences and that is hopefully to go to the Gold Cup. That will be the aim providing everything goes well.

"It is about doing what is best for him and getting him there with the right amount of experience and right amount of runs under his belt. Going around Cheltenham this weekend will help in that department.

"Hopefully he can take another step in the right direction on Saturday."

Thistlecrack's rivals in this weekend's three-mile contest include Irish challenger Marinero, who was narrowly beaten by the high-class Monksland on his latest appearance at Galway.

Trainer Henry de Bromhead said: "Marinero is going to run on Saturday. He's had a great year and he was only just beaten in a conditions chase at Galway by Monksland a few weeks ago.

"He will have a break at some stage so we'll see how he gets on Saturday before we make any more plans for him."

Read More at Sporting Life

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