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  • 15:35 Cleeve Hurdle 2m 7f 213y

  • (Grade 2) £60,000 added 5yo+ 7 ran
  • Winner £34,170 2nd £12,822 3rd £6,420 4th £3,198
  • Going: Heavy
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 6m 28.00s
  • Off time: 15:36:40

Thistlecrack wins Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham

Last Updated: 30/01/16 9:13pm

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Thistlecrack was in a different league to his rivals

Thistlecrack was in a different league to his rivals

Thistlecrack (4/5 favourite) absolutely trotted up in the Cleeve Hurdle to rubber-stamp his World Hurdle credentials, with Camping Ground well beaten.

Colin Tizzard's horse had previously won the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and the Long Walk at Ascot, but there were some who remained unconvinced as to the suitability of Cheltenham following a heavy defeat on his only previous visit to the track.

Given a confident ride by Tom Scudamore, who was content to slipstream Camping Ground throughout, the eight-year-old allayed that concern with a 12-length success in which he barely had to come out of second gear.

Ptit Zig, returned to hurdles having lacked fluency over fences this season, stayed on nicely enough for a distant second but Camping Ground, who had taken over the running from Knockara Beau half a mile out, weakened disappointingly to finish out of the frame.

Tizzard said: "I didn't quite think I had him in the same form as Ascot but he was brilliant.

"He kept galloping up the run-in without even checking. He powered up the hill against class opposition. It's a World Hurdle qualifier and he has won it by 12 lengths without coming off the bridle.

"At home he works like that. He is big and strong and one day he will make a damn good chaser, if he ever goes that way.

"That is three times on the trot he has won like that and he doesn't need to get any better to win the World Hurdle. I don't know how good he is.

"He is a fantastic specimen of a horse - he is big, strong and cocky.

"Nothing can stay with him on the gallops and he has now done it on the track. It's as good as it gets."

Sharing Tizzard's delight was winning rider Scudamore, who believes that performance sets the standard for the World Hurdle.

 "He's laid down a pretty big marker," said the winning jockey. "That was a tremendous feeling, hopefully we can do the same in five or six weeks' time.

"You can ride him however you want to ride him - he gives you so much confidence.

"He's just fantastic."

Sky Bet cut Thistlecrack to 6/4 from 5/2 for the World Hurdle and Racing PR Manager Michael Shinners was suitably impressed.

"Wow!" he said. "There were one or two disbelievers but there aren't anymore.

"Thistlecrack has simply blown away the opposition and perhaps the powers that be will have to name the next of this winter's storms after him following that display!

"In all seriousness, it was hard not to be impressed by that and he's allayed any fears regarding the track. We're betting non-runner no bet on the World Hurdle for which he's our 6/4 favourite and it's going to take a good one to stop him."

As for the runner-up Ptit Zig, his trainer Paul Nicholls said he is likely to have his chasing career kept on hold and would return to the track in March for a shot at the World Hurdle.

He said: "He is still jumping a bit novicey. It was a bit of rush into the Kempton race last time. He got the trip and will be better on better ground.

"I would not have thought he will run before the Festival.

"We will just freshen him up as he has not had a break for a little while and then we will come back for the World Hurdle."

Rebecca Curtis was pleased with performance of The Romford Pele on ground that she felt was softer than ideal for the nine-year-old.

She said: "I thought he run very well as he is certainly not a soft ground horse.

"He had some nice horses in behind. Noel (Fehily) was quite pleased with the way he travelled all the way round.

"This horse was being aimed at the Grand National but he might run in the World Hurdle. He will be much better on better ground."

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