EQUINE MANAGEMENT AND TRAINING - Fred and Rowena Cook
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One-time 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack is set to return to action in the 2017/18 national hunt season with the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. The race will be his first outing since he was forced off the track with a tendon injury back in January.
Credit: Racing Post via Twitter
Colin Tizzard’s runner could not have been any more impressive in his novice campaign over fences as he won his first four chase starts early in the season. Connections were prepared to take on the more experienced horses in the blue riband event of the Cheltenham Festival with their horse rather than run in the RSA Chase for novices; however, the news broke in January that the nine-year-old was out for the season.
Tizzard has been unable to do any work with his stable star since he picked up the injury in January. Tendon injuries take at least nine months to heal fully; therefore, the most the horse would have done since then would have been to take a stroll around the yard.
Thistlecrack was renowned for his superb cruising speed during his campaign over hurdles and in the early stages of his chasing career. In the 2016 King George, he was able to accelerate from the talented Cue Card with ease to put the contest out of reach for the defending champion. He won the Grade One contest by over three lengths.
If the former World Hurdle winner does respond well to training over the next couple of months, he will line up in the feature 3m contest on Boxing Day where he will be bidding to joining an elite list of horses that have won the King George more than once. If you are having a bet on the Grade One, or any daily horse race, you can get help with Horse racing tips – the bookies offers also mean you can pick up a free bet when you open up a new account online.
The 2017 King George could be one of the best renewals of the race in many years. Last season’s RSA Chase winner Might Bite is the current favourite. Nicky Henderson’s runner has won his last three races over fences and responded well to when he fell at Kempton at the last obstacle when a long way clear of his rivals in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
Credit: BHA Press Office via Twitter
Last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John is also likely to run in the King George, especially if he is successful in the Betfair Chase at Haydock a month earlier. The Irish horse will be bidding for the Chase Triple Crown in the 2017/18 campaign, which requires him to win the Betfair Chase, King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season. If he is able to score in those races, he will earn his connections a £1 million bonus.
The first major race of the 2017/18 national hunt season in the UK is the Grade Two Old Roan Chase, which is scheduled to take place at Aintree on October 29.