Thistlecrack has been given the go-ahead to tackle stable companion Cue Card in the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Trainer Colin Tizzard has been considering whether to let his star novice take on the best chasers around having won his first three races with the minimum of fuss. The decision was ultimately left to owners John and Heather Snook, who confirmed they have always had the Christmas showpiece in their minds.
Snook said: “It’s definitely the King George for Thistlecrack – it’s always been my intention to go that way provided the horse has been coping with jumping fences and we think he has.
“His win at Newbury on Hennessy day confirmed that – there was nothing wrong with that performance – and provided he’s 110 per cent on the day, we’ll be in the King George.”
Tizzard, who has had a tremendous first half of the season, will be bidding for back-to-back wins after Cue Card’s last-gasp success 12 months ago.
He added: “It’s John and Heather’s horse and as owners they have the right to say where he is going to run. We’d been saying for the last three weeks that we were going to leave the decision as long as we could, but we thought it was only fair that we told people what we intended to do.
“The owners want to go for the King George and I’m in full backing with it (the decision). Cue Card’s owners have sat down with Thistlecrack’s owners and they are both in agreement the King George is a once-in-a-lifetime race and both horses are in cracking form, so they should take their chance.
“Thistlecrack is eight coming nine, we know he can gallop and win a World Hurdle. He’s had three chases and last time his jumping was immaculate.
“Do we need to wait another year before we try to win a King George with him? The owners had the final say and they wanted to go, I fully support it.
LUDLOW: 12.35 Coup De Pinceau, 1.05 Ibis Du Rheu (next best), 1.35 Baltimore Rock, 2.10 Tara View, 2.40 Fox Appeal, 3.10 Un Prophete, 3.40 Black Mischief.
NEWCASTLE: 1.30 Fuwairt, 2.00 Steve Rogers, 2.30 Go George Go, 3.00 Singapore Sling, 3.30 Unnoticed, 4.00 Quiet Warrior, 4.30 ENCORE D’OR (NAP), 5.00 Slim Chance.