JOE Tizzard feels Thistlecrack is still capable of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup after his encouraging run in the 32Red King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

Assistant to his father, Colin, Tizzard felt last year’s King George winner jumped and travelled with all his old enthusiasm, but the race – his second since his return from an absence of 307 days – took plenty out of him and whether he runs again before March remains to be seen.

“It was another step forward and we are getting there. It was another strong run and if hadn’t clouted two out he might have been close to being second,” said Tizzard, who is based at Milborne Port.

“It was a solid run, but he was a tired horse the next day. He was laid down in his stable when I went to feed him. We haven’t decided yet what we are going to do.

“The plan was we would like to get another run into him as he has only had the two so far.

“Whether or not one comes too soon, we will have to decide.

“On bare visual evidence, on the way he travelled and jumped in the King George, I do think he can win a Gold Cup.

“It is a job to gauge him at home, to be perfectly honest. You would like to think if he stepped forward as much as he did from his first run to his second run and if there is a bit more to come it doesn’t put us too far away. The way he jumped and travelled he certainly looked like the Thistlecrack of old.”

Meanwhile, Tizzard’s almost-white Grand Vision led his rivals a merry dance, jumping with great enthusiasm for an 11-year-old in the Betfred Mandarin Handicap Chase

However, Tizzard had to settle for second behind Daklondike who ended a lean spell for David Pipe by claiming the prestigious prize.

Daklondike was one of the first off the bridle, but Tom Scudamore kept at it and at the last he took over.

Cue Card could be seen next at Kempton in January before another tilt at the Betfair Ascot Chase in February.

The Tizzard-trained gelding swerved the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, with his trainer earmarking outings at Ascot, Cheltenham and then Aintree before retirement for the nine-time Grade One winner, who turns 12 on New Year’s Day.

Joe Tizzard said: “He could well run in a two-and-a-half-mile Listed race at Kempton on the 13th. It is quite likely he will run in that before Ascot. On bare form he would have nearly been placed in the King George.”

Cue Card has twice won the Ascot showpiece, with his first success coming in 2013 before beating Shantou Flyer 12 months ago.


t: 01305 830990

e: sport

twitter: @Dorstechosport