Thistlecrack produced an incredible performance to run out a brilliant winner of the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton.
The dominant force in the staying hurdle division last season and unbeaten in just three previous starts over fences, the Colin Tizzard-trained eight-year-old was sent off the 11-10 favourite to see off four rivals which included his stable companion and last year’s winner Cue Card (5-4).
Dual King George hero Silviniaco Conti took the quintet along in the early stages, before Thistlecrack pulled his way to the front in the hands of Tom Scudamore.
Paddy Brennan was alive to the move aboard Cue Card and moved into second to set up the battle many had hoped for.
However, Thistlecrack found another gear rounding the home turn, leaving his stablemate and the rest of the field trailing in his wake.
The bold-jumping market leader safely negotiated the remaining obstacles and a jubilant Scudamore punched the air as his mount passed the post three and a quarter lengths to the good. It was a close thing for second, with Cue Card just holding the late rally of Silviniaco Conti.
Scudamore said: “For the first time in my life I’m pretty speechless. It’s wonderful – I thought he’d win, but I never imagined he’d do it as easy as that.
“He’s a phenomenal racehorse, he’s a pleasure to ride and a great credit to everyone. To win a King George on his fourth run over fences, it just shows the hard work everyone back at the yard has done and I’m so thrilled to be part of it.”
He added: “Between myself, my father (Peter) and grandfather (Michael) we’ve had about 33,000 winners and he’s the best one of the lot.”
Charismatic Man, meanwhile, can take another step up in trip in his stride by winning the Betway App Handicap at Lingfield.
TURF TALK TIPS
CATTERICK: 12.30 Chakisto, 1.05 Hi Bob, 1.35 Fattsota, 2.10 Virnon, 2.45 Wait A Second, 3.20 Rocklim.
LEICESTER: 12.55 Sir Note, 1.25 Sea Beat, 2.00 Lemon’s Gent, 2.35 Rockportian, 3.10 Charbel (next best), 3.40 Raise A Spark.
LINGFIELD: 11.40 Artful Mind, 12.10 Saleh, 12.45 Sidewinder, 1.15 Spinwheel, 1.45 CHARISMATIC MAN (NAP), 2.20 Raise The Game, 2.55 Nuncio, 3.30 Gung Ho Jack.