Cole Set To Conquer World Again
Having trained four winners at the Cheltenham Festival during the last six years, Colin Tizzard will be looking to add to that tally on the third day with Thistlecrack, who goes for the World Hurdle (3.30pm).
Thistle To Conquer World?
Winner of a Grade 1 at Aintree last April (3m, good to soft), Thistlecrack has been a different horse since stepping up to the World Hurdle distance of 3m, winning three of his next four over that trip. One of those was another Grade 1 at Ascot in December (3m, good to soft), prior to a career best in taking a Grade 2 over the World Hurdle C&D on Cheltenham Trials Day in late January.
It was a performance that solidified his position at the head of the market, where he currently stands at 5/4, which may tempt some punters, especially as is it Non Runner Cash Back with BoyleSports. Others meanwhile, may be looking to play the each-way market, and there is a case for that approach, as of the 17 runners to have lined-up for this race at 9/4 or shorter since 1997, just six won.
Vroum Vroum To Strike For The Ladies?
Such a record suggests the likes of Vroum Vroum Mag at 4/1 could be a value option. Willie Mullins’ 7yo is currently 3-4 hurdles, and arrives having shown his effectiveness when winning a Grade 2 at Ascot on his debut over 3m in January (soft). While this mare will need to improve again, she is still unexposed and has the scope to do so.
Similar comments apply to Mouse Morris’ 6yo, Alpha Des Obeaux (8/1), who has made the top two in eight of his nine career outings – the latest of those coming in a Grade 2 over 3m in January (3m, heavy). His only blip came when a faller behind Thistlecrack at Aintree, and his three runner-up efforts in Grade 1 company shows he has the ability.
Ground Key For Cole In Defence
It’s amazing to think that last year’s World Hurdle winner, Cole Harden, hasn’t been mentioned yet, but that has something to do with two defeats this term. Beaten 6l by Thistlecrack on his return (soft), he was then beaten 20l when third at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day (heavy).
Although, Cole Harden never got to shine in the bad ground and will be hoping for better ground when defending the title, which is likely.
Annie Power has to be given a mention if lining-up for this race, having fallen in dramatic fashion in the Mares’ Hurdle 12 months ago. She is entered in that race once more, but could well opt for the World Hurdle – a race in which she was runner-up in the 2014 renewal.
As for the bigger prices, then last year’s Coral Cup winner, Aux Ptits Soins (14/1), would be interesting if Paul Nicholls can get him back following a year’s absence. Stablemate, Saphir Du Rheu (16/1), was runner-up in this last season and while not in form this term, will prefer better ground and could bounce back.
Thistlecrack has a very likeable profile and ticks all the boxes, hence why he is 5/4, but if the ground comes up good to soft (as is tradition here these days), then last year’s winner, Cole Harden, rates a value each-way option at 8/1.
*Prices correct at time of publication