2016 King George VI Chase winner Thistlecrack has today been announced that he will be entered for the contest on Boxing Day after having only had a prep run over hurdles.
Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard this morning explained the 11 year old has come out of his clash Newbury clash with Paisley Park in the Grade Two Long Distance Hurdle in good shape only finishing a length down to the superstar hurdler.
Thistlecrack is a Cheltenham festival winner landing the Stayers Hurdle in 2016 and also in the same year went on to land the prestigious Boxing Day Grade One at Kempton in his first season over fences.
Many thought that the veteran would stay over hurdles this season and be entered in the Grade One Marsh Hurdle at Ascot in a rematch with last year's Stayers Hurdle winner but having not been in the five day decs for the contest, it was announced he will bid for a second King George VI.
Thistlecrack has run in the Kempton highlight for the last three years, with his victory over stablemate Cue Card and two-time race winner Silviniaco Conti followed by a fourth to winner Might Bite in 2017 and a second last year when he fought tooth and nail with Clan Des Obeaux who managed to get the better of him in the latter stages.
(Credit Racing Post) "He is going to Kempton," said Tizzard.
"Tom Scu [Tom Scudamore] has been in this morning and schooled him over fences. He's in good form and he's been first and second in the race so that's where he's going to go.
"He ran really well at Newbury the other day and his form in the race is really strong. He's not getting any younger but he's in good nick and he schooled lovely this morning so he deserves to take his chance."
The was talk of the 2018 Gold Cup winner Native River being supplemented for the Boxing Day feature but with the ground not looking to be heavy on the day of the meeting the nine year old will be aimed elsewhere.
(Credit Racing Post) With the King George supplementary option, Tizzard said: "That's not going to happen, it was just Dad [Colin] thinking out loud. We'll just run the two – Lostintranslation and Thistlecrack."
Asked if Native River could be seen in the Welsh National he added: "No, we won't see him over Christmas. We might run him once more before the Gold Cup. We could go for the Denman or the Cotswold Chase, something like that."