Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack has joined the lengthening list of absentee from the 2017 festival. Thistlecrack was the 2/1 favourite for this year’s feature race, but late on Monday night trainer Colin Tizzard discovered some heat in one of Thistlecrack’s legs. The star chaser was sent for a scan on Tuesday morning, and vets confirmed the worsted on Tuesday afternoon when Thistlecrack was ruled out for the rest of the season with a small tear in a tendon. Tizzard confirmed that his star steeplechaser, was also a doubt to defend his King George crown on Boxing day. No recovery time has been placed on the nine year old, but has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. The list of horse that won’t be at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, is now rather worrying for everyone other than the bokkies. Thistlecrack joins Willie Mullins star trio of Faugheen, Annie Power and Min on the sidelines. Faugheen and and Annie Power were also strong favourites for the Mares and Champion Hurdle on the opening day if the Cheltenham Festival.
Tizzard told the Racing post “He is out of the Gold Cup and won’t run again this season, It won’t be ’til Christmas, will it? It’s not as if he’s broken down; it’s just a little tear. But I suppose it’s like being a little bit pregnant.
With Thistlecrack being ruled out, Tizzard may now need to rethink his plans for Cue Card. It was widely expected that Cue Card would run in the Ryanair instead of the Gold Cup, after being well beaten in the King George by Thistlecrack. Bookie have made Native River, the other star in Tizzard’s stable as the favourite for the Gold Cup. Native River is justified favourite after impressive displays at Newbury and Cheltenham of late. Native River won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November, the Hennessy has always been used as a measuring stick of Cheltenham, with Denman, Many Clouds and Bobs Worth all going on to win at Cheltenham after winning the Hennessy. The fact that Native River is now the ante-post favourite give the indication that the bookies still think Cue Card will still run in the Ryanair. Native River is now priced at 5/2 for this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. Native River had been tipped to challenge stablemate Thistlecrack, after an impressive run at Newbury last time out. Now Native River stands out alone for this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.