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Thistlecrack goes the Distance at Newbury

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Thistlecrack officially announced his arrival on to the staying scene with a comprehensive victory in the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

Thistlecrack officially announced his arrival on to the staying scene with a comprehensive victory in the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

Trained by the red-hot Colin Tizzard, the seven-year-old gamely landed the Grade Two over three miles in which the alleged big-hitters failed to fire.

Whisper and Cole Harden were the prominent duo in the market, but the former disappointed as the 6-4 favourite, while the latter stayed on late in the day after having made most of the running.

Deputy Dan fleetingly looked the winner once he took the lead three out, but Thistlecrack and Tom Scudamore outmuscled that rival at the next flight and kept up an honest gallop to win by six lengths.

Scudamore said of the 7-2 scorer: "He was unlucky not to win two Grades Ones last year.

"He travelled very well in the race and hopefully there's more to come.

"It was very straightforward, really."

Tizzard said: "As Tom said, he's grown into a big, strong horse now.

"To be honest, I told everyone he would need the run, but that he might be classy enough to win.

"He jumped and never missed a beat and travelled strongly, and I'm sure he'll improve massively for that.

"We don't have to decide (about going over fences) yet, but we thought we'd give him a couple of runs over hurdles to see if he is good enough to challenge for the World Hurdle.

"On that run, he is good enough and will go to Ascot now (Long Walk Hurdle)."

Warren Greatrex said of the third-placed Cole Harden: "You've got to be happy with that run.

"He jumped great and travelled great and Gavin (Sheehan, jockey) half-wished he'd gone harder earlier on.

"It was his first run of the season and that would have done him good.

"He could not quicken on that ground, but what he did was stay on strongly.

"It's all about March (Cheltenham Festival) so it's good to get the first one out of the way.

"He won't go to Ascot, he'll either go for the Relkeel or the Cleeve at Cheltenham."