Colin Tizzard’s star chaser Thistlecrack has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a stress fracture in a bitter blow for Tizzard and National Hunt racing fans alike.
The 10-year-old son of Kayf Tara missed last year’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup due to a tendon injury and tragedy has once again struck the “Crack” who will now miss racing’s Blue Riband event for the second year in succession.
Thistlecrack returned to the track after his leg injury to finish a disappointing fifth in the G2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November, in which he was beaten 13 lengths by Beer Goggles.
However, connections were content with the run with John and Heather Snook’s charge subsequently finishing a fine fourth in the King George VI Chase behind Nicky Henderson’s Might Bite at Kempton Park.
All roads therefore seemed to lead to Cheltenham for a first tilt at the extended three miles and two furlongs Grade One event, but those hopes have been dashed.
Speaking to At The Races, Kim Tizzard said:
He was a little bit stiff behind after the King George and he’s been off and had X-rays and bone scans – it’s gutting. He ran a screamer. He jumped really well and we were getting excited that the old Thistlecrack was still there.
We were going for the Gold Cup – we’re gutted. Hopefully he’ll have his box rest and come back next season. We’re gutted for the team, the owners, everyone. We’ve still got a horse, at the end of the day.
Analysis by Danny Archer:
This is a devastating blow for the Tizzards. Thistlecrack, in my opinion, hasn’t really looked the same horse following his nasty tendon injury, but to miss the Gold Cup for a second successive year will be a bitter pill for connections to swallow. Hopefully, he can come back and regain his old sparkle but two bad injuries in two years will make life tough.
With Cue Card nearing retirement, Native River looks Tizzard’s chief hope for the Blue Riband event, but Might Bite’s dominance at 3/1 in the Gold Cup market with a fair few firms, highlights how this news strengthens Nicky Henderson’s potential grip on the Gold Cup trophy.