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Thistlecrack too sharp for Long Distance big guns at Newbury

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Thistlecrack is around the 10-1 mark to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham after he showed pluck and class to win the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

Thistlecrack is around the 10-1 mark to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham after he showed pluck and class to win the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

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

Whisper and reigning World Hurdle hero 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.

Tizzard said: "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: "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."

Gavin Sheehan was aboard Cole Harden, but the rest of the day could not have gone any better for the jockey as he left the Berkshire circuit with a treble.

Arzal firstly jumped his rivals into the ground to maintain his unbeaten status over fences with a clear-cut success in the bet365.com Novices' Limited Handicap Chase.

Then it was the turn of the Greatrex-trained Aloomomo, who continued his rapid rise through the ranks with an impressive victory in the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase.

Suitably inspired, Sheehan completed a hat-trick after Royal Guardsman just held off Ibis Du Rheu in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle.

Tea In Transvaal earlier put in a courageous display of front-running to gain some valuable black type with victory in the TBA Mares' Novices' Hurdle, while Grey Gold delivered in the concluding bet365 Handicap Chase for emerging trainer Kerry Lee.

Lee said: "He came here as fit as a flea and he's run an absolute belter.

"He dug in deep and is a great horse, but soft ground is important to him."