Liverpool Stayer's Hurdle
|Grade 1, Aintree 15:40
3m 149y, Class 1
|Saturday 9th April 2016|
1 Thistlecrack 2-7F
2 Shaneshill 8/1
3 Prince Of Scars 10/1
6 ran Distances: 7l, 5l, 2¼l
TIME 6m 33.40s (slow by 39.40s)
Thistlecrack makes all the running to win in dominant style
Thistlecrack gave trainer Colin Tizzard the second half of a very special Aintree big-race double, taking the Grade One Liverpool Stayers' Hurdle two days after Cue Card won the Grade One Betfred Bowl.
The Kayf Tara eight-year-old, ridden by Tom Scudamore, comfortably beat Shaneshill by seven lengths. He was the 2/7 favourite.
Tizzard said: "Going to that second-last, he almost bolted! Christ almighty, he never came off the bridle. I haven't seen anything like it for a while.
"I can't compare him with Cue Card, but he's so nice to watch. You can go as fast as you like for as long as you like with him. I said to [son and former jockey] Joe, he's in good form, he's in the right race - we shouldn't actually be getting nervous, we should just enjoy it, but it makes my heart thump a bit!
"Tom [Scudamore] was a bit anxious before the start about the possible slow pace, but the closer to the front the better in my mind - that's why we made the running.
"He's head and shoulders above the rest at the moment. I thought he looked better again [than at Cheltenham, where he won the Ryanair World Hurdle easily]."
Asked what the future holds for Thistlecrack, Tizzard replied: "Of course we'll go to Punchestown, as long as the ground's right. When he's in that sort of form, why would you want to turn him out now? There's absolutely no reason why he can't run again.
"And next season - he's so brilliant at this discipline [hurdling], chasing isn't a dead certainty. But if he is going to go [over fences], he needs to go now."
Thistlecrack's owner Heather Snook said: "I think we've all run out superlatives. He just sets the bar higher every time. Every time something comes to his hindquarters he just says, 'let's go.' It's just frightening that even at this level he just comes back in looking like he's been out for a racecourse gallop.
"Apart from the one mistake [at the second last] his jumping was impeccable - you can't really say much more than that. The whole Tizzard team have worked so hard to keep him winning at this level - it's just amazing."
Liverpool Stayers' Hurdle
£150,000 added, 4yo plus, 3m 149y, Class 1
Going: Soft, Good to Soft in places
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Thistlecrack 2/7f||T Scudamore
|C L Tizzard||8|
|2nd||7||Shaneshill (IRE) 8/1||P Townend
|W P Mullins||7|
|3rd||5||Prince Of Scars (IRE) 10/1||B J Cooper
|4th||2¾||Serienschock (GER) 66/1||L Philipperon
|Miss Alexandra Rosa||8|
|5th||2||Different Gravey (IRE) 5/1||Nico de Boinville
|N J Henderson||6|
|6th||19||Aqalim 50/1||Aidan Coleman
|J P Ferguson||6|
MULLINS PONDERS THE OBSTACLES FOR SHANESHILL
A procession by Thistlecrack maintained the run of hot favourites at Aintree on Crabbie's Grand National day.
The 2/7 favourite won by seven lengths from the Willie Mullins-trained Shaneshill, who was reverting to hurdles after finishing second in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last month. Shaneshill crossed the line five lengths clear of Prince Of Scars, with French challenger Serienschock taking fourth, a further two and a quarter lengths back.
Mullins said: "We decided after Cheltenham that we would bring him back to hurdles and try and make a staying hurdler out of him rather than meet Blaklion again. If he ran well here we would pursue that career because we feel he's just a bit better over hurdles.
"He can win more races over fences, but doesn't quite have the scope, but having seen that today we could even mix it with him. I'm not sure he's good enough to win a World Hurdle, but there are plenty of other races at Cheltenham over fences."
Serienschock had run at Aintree before while trained by David Pipe. His current trainer, Alexandra Rosa, said: "He ran well and I'm very pleased with him. He remembered how to jump English hurdles.
"I'm not sure he was ever going to finish second, but I was hopeful of third. It was a very good race and a very high level. Higher than the race he last ran in in France.
"We like to take him to different tracks to keep him fresh - that's important with this horse. Also this is a flat track which suits him.
"Thistlecrack is very good. You have Thistlecrack and we have a horse in France called Blue Dragon [trained by Guy Cherel and the winner of nine of his 11 races over hurdles]."