Thistlecrack won the Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree
Last Updated: 10/04/15 6:18pm
Thistlecrack (25/1) was a surprise winner of the Grade One Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree for Colin Tizzard.
Last seen out finishing strongly to be beaten just over three lengths in the hugely competitive Imperial Cup over two miles, the imposing seven-year-old relished stepping up to three miles to score under Tom Scudamore.
Scudamore unsurprisingly took his time, but he was still moving powerfully at the top of the home straight and he moved up to challenge Irish raider Alpha Des Obeaux jumping the third flight from the finish.
Thistlecrack looked to be gaining the upper hand between the final two flights but Alpha Des Obeaux was still in with a shout and coming back at him when he was asked for a big one at the last by Richard Johnson only to come crashing to the turf.
Johnson later rose to his feet and walked away.
His exit left Tizzard's charge home for all money and he passed the post 13 lengths clear of Vyta Du Roc, with Our Kaempfer third.
The disappointment of the race was heavily-supported favourite Roi Des Francs, who was being pushed along heading out for the second circuit by Ruby Walsh and was eventually pulled up.
Scudamore said: "It was great, it's wonderful to ride a winner for the Tizzards. I've ridden a lot of winners for them over the years but it's nice to do it on a nice horse on a big stage.
"It was a proper job. I thought I had it won at the last, we missed it too, but as long as Dickie (Johnson) is all right that's the main thing."
Scudamore went on: "Joe (Tizzard) said he was not 25/1 chance, he was fifth in the Imperial Cup last time.
"It's great for Colin to have another nice horse, he'll make some chaser."
Tizzard said: "He wasn't right when he was well-beaten last time we stepped up in trip at Cheltenham. He's been very good otherwise.
"He's always been a good horse on our gallops. I thought he'd be better off on better ground. Ruby (Walsh) won on him at Ascot when he gave him a peach.
"I was sure he would stay, his dam was a stout stayer. He was only rated 135 so he would have been a good thing in the handicap.
"We're thinking of the three-miler at Punchestown now, if he's fine tomorrow. He's a thorough stayer and travels well."
Trainer Nicky Henderson was pleased with Vyta Du Roc's effort.
"He ran a great race, it was a fantastic effort," said Henderson. "He's done nothing wrong and was very unlucky at Cheltenham last time, where he should have been second. That's it now and he goes novice chasing next season. He should be good."
Our Kaempfer chased Vyta Du Roc home to take third to the delight of trainer Charlie Longsdon, who said: "I'm really pleased with him.
"I don't think he quite saw out the trip. It's difficult because we're running from last place the whole time and the front two had almost gone by the time he got into the race. Noel said that he got into second place after the last but he didn't quite see the trip out.
"He's run a blinder though - he's run his heart out and he's a different horse to the one who bolted to the start earlier this season. He's a horse to really look forward to next year."