Thistlecrack is right on schedule to defend his crown in the King George VI Chase at Kempton, according to those closest to him.
The exciting chaser hasn’t been spotted since losing his unbeaten record in a thrilling Cotswold Chase defeat to the ill-fated Many Clouds at Cheltenham in January.
Colin Tizzard‘s stable star was the ante-post favourite for the Gold Cup back at Cheltenham in March but a tendon problem ended his season prematurely.
Speaking at an open day at their Dorset base, Joe Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father, revealed that Thistlecrack has been progressing nicely with his recovery and is now firmly on track to be at Kempton in December to defend his King George title.
Thistlecrack heads the betting at 3/1 for the Boxing Day Grade One three-miler and that is where he’s expected to resume his career.
“He’s been on the walker and been ridden, hacking, for five weeks now. He had a slight tear in a tendon in February, but it was very minor. He’s been treated and had his box rest, then been out at grass,” said Tizzard.
“He’ll have two months of gentle road work and be back for Christmas, when the plan is to give him a racecourse gallop before going for the King George again. He looks a picture and his legs are perfect. He’s well on schedule.”
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John is 4/1 to win the King George for trainer Jessica Harrington.
Tizzard also confirmed that former King George winner Cue Card, 22/1 to win the race this year, is showing no signs of slowing down despite his advancing years.
The much-loved veteran fell in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham for the second year running before giving best to Tea For Two in the Aintree Bowl as last season came to a disappointing climax but he is nowhere near ready to call it a day just yet.
“He’s showing no signs of old age. He looks absolutely superb and is not ready to retire yet. He’s burning up our gallops and is in real good form,” Tizzard said of the 11-year-old Cue Card.
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