Thistlecrack well-beaten in fifth over hurdles at Newbury on return to racing

first_img Since you’re here… Read more Share on Twitter news Colin Tizzard was grasping for positives along with everyone else here on Friday after Thistlecrack, the brilliant winner of last year’s King George VI Chase, finished fifth of six runners in a Grade Two hurdles event after a 307-day absence with an injured tendon.Tizzard feels – or hopes – the nine-year-old was not as fit as he believed him to be and his theory will be put to the test on when Thistlecrack returns to Kempton on Boxing Day. Topics Share on LinkedIn Share on Messenger Share via Email Support The Guardian Share on Facebook Horse racing … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Talking Horses: Evans and Ladbrokes case will damage horse racing’s image Tizzard is normally the most imperturbable of trainers, a man who accepts setbacks as part and parcel of the game but there was a definite flash of irritation as he discussed Thistlecrack’s performance, perhaps with himself above all. His runner’s 13-length defeat behind Beer Goggles, a 40-1 outsider, was far removed from his easy win in the same race two years ago.“Until two out, it looked as though he could possibly win it,” Tizzard said. “Before the race, looking at the ones that have raced four or five times this year, he did look as though he was burly and I think he’s run like that. He’s a big, heavy horse now and he just got tired in the last two furlongs.”There was no suggestion Tizzard is having second thoughts about the King George, which Thistlecrack won by three-and-a-quarter lengths last December on just his fourth start over fences. The betting markets, though, were unimpressed by this performance, and last year’s winner is out to 10-1 for a repeat success.“As long as he comes out sound, we’ll be going there,” Tizzard said. “He just needed the run. I’m glad we didn’t try to go to the King George without a run and this is a very good race. The others all looked race-fit beforehand and he looked as though he needed it and that’s how it turned out. As long as he’s sound, nothing’s been lost.“We thought he’d done plenty of work. In hindsight, we’d done enough [but] we all know this is a prep race. We thought his class would see him through but the race-hardened horses have beaten him. For me, he showed all his jumping and spirit until two from home and then he got tired.”Tizzard knows Thistlecrack better than anyone and well enough to send him to the King George as an inexperienced chaser when the Kauto Star Novice Chase on the same card last December seemed a more obvious target. The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage King George VI Chase Read more Tendon injuries have diminished many fine racehorses and punters weighing up Thistlecrack’s chance of a second King George success must also consider the possibility injury has robbed the horse of a small but vital part of what made him so special. This was a fair performance by Thistlecrack after a long break and against several talented, race-fit opponents but the gap between this level of form and what will be required at Kempton on 26 December seems a very wide one to bridge in less than four weeks.With Thistlecrack on the drift in the ante-post betting, Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite is now the clear favourite for the King George at 7-4, with Bristol De Mai, the emphatic winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park last weekend, on offer at 5-1 to add the second leg of the Chasing Triple Crown. Fox Norton, another from the Tizzard stable, is 8-1 alongside Sizing John, last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, and it is 12-1 bar the five.Yanworth, one of the best hurdlers to graduate to fences in recent seasons, was beaten at odds-on for the second time in a month in the card’s Grade Two novice chase, finishing three lengths behind Willoughby Court in a race that has been won by three subsequent Gold Cup winners in the last 11 years.Willoughby Court also took the Grade One Neptune Novice Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival and showed plenty of improvement from a successful chasing debut at Huntingdon last month. Yanworth, who also made a successful start over fences, rarely threatened to repeat his failure to complete when 2-9 for a race at Exeter last month, but at the same time, rarely seemed likely to justify a starting price of 5-6.Alan King, Yanworth’s trainer, reported his horse had suffered “a few nasty overreaches” during the race and will continue to campaign him towards a chase at the Festival in March but trainer Ben Pauling felt Nico de Boinville, the winner’s jockey, had something left had he needed it.“Nico said he gave him a kick after the cross fence [five out] and he just took off,” Pauling said. “He said he should have for another fence and he’d have gone away and it would have been the end of the race.“He took off too early at the ditch at Huntingdon and just lost his confidence, and it took Nico four or five fences to get back into the race. But we can forget that now and look at him for what he is.”Willoughby Court is being aimed towards the JLT Novice Chase at Cheltenham in March and is now top-priced at 9-1 second-favourite behind Tizzard’s Finians Oscar at 6-1, with Yanworth out to 14-1 (from 10-1).Chris Cook’s Saturday tipsNewcastle 11.55 Look My Way 12.30 Witness 1.05 Hear No Evil 1.40 Acdc 2.10 Irving 2.45 McGowan’s Pass 3.20 Yala EnkiDoncaster 12.05 Kalashnikov 12.40 Redemption Song 1.15 William Of Orange 1.45 Deauville Dancer 2.20 General Mahler 2.55 Barlow 3.30 SkylineNewbury 12.10 Cap Soleil 12.45 Fountains Windfall 1.20 Gold Present (nb) 1.50 Air Horse One 2.25 High Bridge 3.00 Potters Legend (nap) 3.35 Duke Of NavanBangor 12.25 Tommy Silver 1.00 Whitsundays 1.35 Enjoy Responsibly 2.05 Whiskey In The Jar 2.40 Marten 3.15 Ballybrowneybridge 3.45 Legal EyesWolverhampton 5.45 It’s A Wish 6.15 Legal History 6.45 Swiss Knight 7.15 Hisar 7.45 Fayez 8.15 Ice Canyon 8.45 Mixboy 9.15 King Kevin Share on Pinterest Share on WhatsApp Thistlecrack Reuse this contentlast_img

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