Heather and John Snook’s Thistlecrack, England’s dominant staying hurdler, crushed his opposition in Cheltenham Racecourse’s £300,000 Ryanair World Hurdle (Gr. 1) on Thursday and became the only horse with a chance to win the $500,000 Brown Advisory Cheltenham Iroquois Challenge this year.
The second half of the challenge is the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park on Saturday, May 14, and no decision was announced immediately whether the eight-year-old will take up the challenge.
Always going well under jockey Tom Scudamore, even-money favorite Thistlecrack moved out of the pack to keep pace with front-running Cole Harden after two miles of the nearly three-mile contest.
Thistlecrack seized the lead before the next to last fence, and Alpha Des Obeaux made a move toward the leader. But Thistlecrack was going easily and opened a daylight lead into the final fence. He steadily pulled away from his only challenger up Cheltenham’s sloping run-in and won by seven lengths. Longshot Bobs Worth finished third, 33 lengths farther back.
Scudamore, the son of legendary English jump jockey Peter Scudamore, described Thistlecrack as the best horse he has ever ridden. Thistlecrack also broke a zero-for-94 mark for the younger Scudamore at Cheltenham.
Now the winner of four straight races, Thistlecrack ran the Ryanair World Hurdle’s distance in 5:42.60 on turf rated as good with spots good to soft. “He’s gone from being a very nice horse to a superstar,” said his trainer, Colin Tizzard.