Tips: Thistlecrack worth a go at Ascot prize

Colin Tizzard:  Warned Thistlecrack needed the run first time out. Picture: Getty

Colin Tizzard: Warned Thistlecrack needed the run first time out. Picture: Getty

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Thistlecrack is worthy of deep respect when he competes in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

Thistlecrack is worthy of deep respect when he competes in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

The Grade One for stayers appears to pivot around Saphir Du Rheu, last season’s World Hurdle runner-up who returns from a short, yet pretty lucrative, stint over fences. Trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Andy Stewart will be hoping the six-year-old can replicate the great Big Buck’s, who won this race three times after fencing plans were scrapped in 2008.

Make no mistake, Saphir Du Rheu is a strong favourite, but it must be doubtful that he will revert to hurdling with such consummate ease as the old Ditcheat hero – especially with ground on the soft side.

It was not as if he had an especially easy time of things in the Hennessy, either, as he was kept up to his work throughout the race before fading on the run-in.

These factors could therefore clear the road for Thistlecrack, who is the proverbial “new kid on the block” on the staying scene and is surely open to any amount of improvement at this stage of the game.

Trainer Colin Tizzard told anyone that cared to listen that his seven-year-old would need the run in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month, having been out in a field since he finished second in a Grade One at Punchestown in April.

Yet those that took the plunge were rewarded by the bucket-load as Thistlecrack threw off the shackles once Deputy Dan had fleetingly seized the initiative and won in rather emphatic fashion. Fatigue had clearly set in after the last hurdle, but there was something really quite exciting with the manner by which he got stuck in once the rest of the field had cried off.

The form looks impregnable, too, as the third horse home, lest we not forget, was none other than reigning World Hurdle champ Cole Harden. Thistlecrack, who breezily won a first Grade One at Aintree in the spring, should find conditions pretty similar at Ascot to that of Newbury, which is a plus.

ASCOT

12.40 Carlo Rocks

1.15 Mala Beach

1.50 Ultragold

2.25 Thistlecrack (nap)

3.00 Pendra

3.35 Waxies Dargle

HAYDOCK

11.55 Baratineur

12.25 Aso

12.55 Briery Queen

1.30 Vodka Wells

2.05 De Boitro

2.40 Wilton Milan

3.15 Major Ivan

LINGFIELD

12.05 Alshaqee

12.35 Picansort

1.10 Rotherwick

1.45 Good Trip

2.20 Grendisar

2.55 Calling Out

3.30 Silver Lining

NEWCASTLE

11.45 Australasia

12.15 Alto Des Mottes

12.50 New Academy

1.20 Trust Thomas

1.55 Near To Tears

2.30 Officer Cadet

3.05 Very First Time

DOUBLE

Thistlecrack

2.25 Ascot

Waxies Dargle

3.25 Ascot

SUNDAY

FAKENHAM

12.50 Houston Dynimo

1.20 Hollies Pearl

1.50 Wings Attract (nap)

2.20 Gin And Tonic,

2.50 Global Domination

3.20 Prince Of Steal.

LINGFIELD

12.30 Fast Approach

1.00 Coorg

1.30 Kingsley Klarion

2.00 Grams And Ounces

2.30 Mediate

3.00 Farham

3.30 Rubis

DOUBLE

Hollies Pearl

1.20 Fakenham

Wings Attract

1.50 Fakenham

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