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Thistlecrack to cement Gold Cup favouritism

 Jan 25 2017

Brilliant novice chaser Thistlecrack will attempt to make it an unbeaten five wins over fences and cement his position as Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite live on Sky Racing on Saturday night.

The Colin Tizzard-trained Thistlecrack heads 11 entries for Cheltenham's Grade 2 Cotswold Chase as he looks to continue a superb transition from hurdles. Last year's dominant champion staying hurdler became the first novice chaser to win the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and this will be his first run since.

Ideally Thistlecrack needs to be tested, as although he has been faultless over fences so far, the Gold Cup is always a tough ask for a novice. Coneygree proved it could be done in 2015 when becoming the first novice to win since Captain Christy in 1974 but jumping at a serious tempo over the Cheltenham fences has caught many out.

He's likely to get that here with Many Clouds and Smad Place who are the last two winners of the Cotswold Chase among the entries. Oliver Sherwood's Many Clouds was successful in 2015 before going on to glory in the Grand National three months later, while Alan King's Smad Place would be making his first start since finishing seventh in the Hennessy in November in a race he was an impressive 12 length winner of last year.

Richard Wade - Sky Racing

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