Thistlecrack Gold Cup quotes derisory

Last week we praised Colin Tizzard’s decision of Colin Tizzard to throw Thistlecrack in at the deep end in Monday’s King George Chase at Kempton.
Thistlecrack Gold Cup quotes derisory

Such boldness and bravery deserved reward and it was wonderful to watch this superb talent in action.

The reaction to the admittedly impressive performance, however, has been almost hysterical, led by the press and very much supported by the bookmakers, with Ladbrokes making the running.

Ladbrokes, this week, thought that Thistlecrack was now a 4-5 chance for the Gold Cup and that really is attempting to take punters for total mugs.

There was plenty of 5-4 available elsewhere - most of that had disappeared yesterday - but that too had to be regarded as very much a hold-up price for a race that doesn’t take place until March 17.

Thistlecrack is a magnificent horse, no doubt about that, but there is a madness and a wildness to his jumping that is both exhilarating and terrifying.

Television commentators and those of the printed word have, understandably, been raving about him, but the big question is can he win a Gold Cup standing miles off some of his fences.

The Gold Cup is a three-miles, two and a half-furlong slog and a test like no other. Ladbrokes think he should be 4-5, but I believe if the race was tomorrow he wouldn’t be odds-on.

The Gold Cup takes on an entirely different dynamic to any other top class chase, it demands so much of horse and rider and leaves little room for error.

It is a race that destroys reputations, none more so than that of Carvill’s Hill in 1992. Trained by Martin Pipe, his preparatory run saw him win the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Leopardstown by 15 lengths.

On the lead-in to Cheltenham defeat looked out of the question, especially as he was faced by just seven opponents.

It also seemed certain that he would be an odds-on shot, but the layers in those days were made of sterner stuff and Carvill’s Hill was returned at even-money.

I distinctly remember going down to the parade ring well before the race started and the tension was palpable.

It clearly got to the horse and, perhaps, his rider, Peter Scudamore, as well because Carvill’s Hill hardly rose a gallop, trailing home a distant last of five finishers behind apparent no-hoper, Cool Ground.

And that’s one of the reasons why, if Ladbrokes are proven to be right on the day and Thistlecrack goes off at cramped odds, here’s one who will definitely lay the horse and have all the others running for him.

In the meantime, Willie Mullins seems utterly determined that Douvan will remain in his comfort zone and continue down the boring two-mile Champion Chase path, rather than the far more exciting Gold Cup route.

Yes, we know Douvan was brilliant again at Leopardstown on Tuesday, beating Sizing John for the fifth time. Mullins indicated after the race that his star could eventually step up in trip, but not this season.

That’s fair enough, but as you push on in years, you realise more and more that long-term planning can be a futile exercise and tomorrow may never come!

Colin Tizzard had a real go and, as a result, Thistlecrack became the first novice to land the King George.

Some 20 years ago, John Magnier installed a largely untried young man, at least when it came to flat racing, Aidan O’Brien, at Ballydoyle and look how that turned out.

In 1993, Dermot Weld did the unthinkable and went to the other side of the world to win the Melbourne Cup with Vintage Crop.

Right now, it is surely fair to say that Mullins, with the best National Hunt yard on the planet, does not have a Gold Cup horse, after Djakadam again had his limitations exposed in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on Wednesday.

Douvan, in contrast to Thistlecrack, is the most beautiful jumper of a fence you will ever witness. To see these two go head-to-head is the closest we would ever get to Arkle and Mill House.

As the legendary Del Boy is given to saying on the television sitcom Only Fools and Horses: “He who dares wins!’’

There seems little doubt now that Willie Mullins’ Min is going to be far better over fences than he was over flights.

He was good first time up at Navan, but even better when taking a Grade 1 at Leopardstown on Monday.

Truth to tell this was merely a Grade 1 in name and Min had to be as good as he was to have a realistic hope of landing the Arkle at Cheltenham.

He got run over by Altior in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and Nicky Henderson’s charge has also taken particularly well to fences, as evidenced by an easy success at Kempton this week.

Altior may still prove the better horse, but it’s a safe bet, I think, that It won’t be as one-sided as last time.

Speaking of Mullins, how do you sum up what he achieved over the Christmas period, given he had to go to war without the 60 Gigginstown horses and with no sign of either Faugheen or Annie Power.

And what a system he has for sourcing future stars. Take the ex-French filly, Meri Devie, who made a fine start for him when easily taking a three-year-old hurdle at Leopardstown on Tuesday.

Her previous outing was when seventh of nine in a Group 1 for fillies at Deauville in May. I mean how did she end up with Mullins, rather than any of the six that finished in front of her?

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