In one of the most eagerly anticipated seasonal returns in many a year, the eight-year-old did not disappoint, putting in a near foot-perfect display to make a successful start to his chasing career in Monmouthshire just as esteemed stablemate Cue Card had done five years ago.
While sterner tests lie in store for the four-times Grade One-winning hurdler, he could have hardly been more impressive in casting his authority over his rivals in the manner of a horse destined to make it at the top rung of the chasing ladder.
Sent straight into the lead by Tom Scudamore, the 1-6 favourite barely touched a twig throughout the near three-mile journey.
He met the fifth-last slightly wrong, but put himself right and responded at the very next fence, an open ditch, with an exhibition leap before passing the post four lengths clear of the gallant runner-up Aqalim.
Scudamore could not hide his delight, saying: “He was fantastic, he’s done everything we’ve asked of him all the way through.
“It was nice that Aqalim came to me over the last couple but then he winged the last.
“He was neat and nimble, since the word go at home chasing has always been his game but it’s on the course that matters.
“I’ve ridden plenty who have been naturals at home and you wouldn’t believe they’d ever seen an obstacle and vice versa.
“Every horse is different, they are all individuals but he’s a mighty one.
“He can do things other horses can’t even dream of, he’s phenomenal and it’s tremendous to be associated with him.”
Thistlecrack is a best-priced 5-1 favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March and a return to Prestbury Park next month is now on the agenda.
Tizzard said: “The horse was not nervous at all and he thoroughly enjoyed his job.
“When he got in tight once he was really good, as if he’d been jumping for years. You could not have wished for a horse to jump better.
“He is a beautiful horse and this is what we do it for, to end up with horses like this. My heart is pumping just talking about it.
“Yesterday morning I was wondering if we’d got him fit enough but as soon as we put the saddle on he looked 100% fit.
“He’s very laid back at home, he has a huge rib cage and you wonder if he’s fully wound up but that’s probably because of the size of his heart and lungs that enables him to power away like he does.”
Tizzard added: “In two and a half weeks time no doubt we’ll go to Cheltenham. He hasn’t had a hard race and he needs the practice.
“If we’re going to the Gold Cup we need to know he can jump round Cheltenham, there’s no need to go small any more. A novice chase there (Cheltenham) with half a dozen runners would be perfect.
“The plan was to do two novice chases then go to the Feltham at Kempton but we don’t know.
“He is probably good enough to run in any race.”
Tizzard admitted victory came as a relief.
“I’m relieved, we’ve all been in racing long enough and it’s hard to deal with expectations.
“He had a good blow so he’ll improve for the run.”
“He has got the potential to do anything.”
Richard Johnson enjoyed a 116-1 treble, completed with a facile 14-length success aboard the Tim Vaughan-trained Looksnowtlikebrian (5-4) in the opening division of the Truck And Bus Wales And West Handicap Hurdle.
The champion jockey had early enjoyed success on Chris Down’s Craiganee (8-1) in the Clive Barford Ltd Supporting Velindre “Confined” Handicap Hurdle and the Bernard Llewellyn-trained Honour Promise (7-1) in the Silv Serv Recycling Ltd Supporting Velindre Selling Hurdle.