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Kid gloves are off Thistlecrack as Tizzard star gears up for King George

Colin Tizzard revealed the kid gloves have come off Thistlecrack as he starts his stable star's build-up to the 32Red King George VI Chase.

Kempton's Christmas highlight looks set to be a real cracker with Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John and star two-miler Douvan also among the 26 entries on Wednesday.

Thistlecrack is now back in fast work and Tizzard revealed that the nine-year-old's legs are now in such good shape, he cannot remember which tendon it was when injury ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival.

"He’s one of the best horses I’ve seen," said Tizzard of the nine-year-old, who is set to return from ten months off in Newbury's Long Distance Hurdle on December 1. "He was brilliant last year, brilliant the year before over hurdles and there’s absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be just as brilliant this year. He’s a big strong, big rib-caged horse.

"We had him in the first week in August, we’re now in November and we’re just starting to go a bit faster with him. He’s got a month of fast work and he’ll be ready to run. He’ll have a hurdle race before we go to the King George because we can’t really go there first time out."

Tizzard, who has also entered Fox Norton, winner of Aintree's Melling Chase, added on a Love The Jumps podcast: "I feel his legs once a week now and someone else feels them every other day, not every day but I have a little feel and they seem absolutely fine. I think ‘which leg was it?’ I’m sure it was that one and then they say ‘no it was that one’. There’s nothing there to be seen. So we’ll treat him now with no kid gloves.

"He will be doing all his work in the next month ready for his first race."

The Jessica Harrington-trained Sizing John is set to return in this month's Betfair Chase, whereas Douvan is building up towards a comeback after losing his unbeaten record since joining Willie Mullins with a shock defeat in last season's Betway Champion Chase.

It will be interesting to see which distance Douvan, the subject of upbeat bulletins by Ruby Walsh in recent weeks after suffering a stress fracture at Cheltenham, is campaigned over this season, and connections have left options open with an entry in the three-mile showpiece on December 26.

Last season's top staying novice chaser Might Bite heads the ante-post market at 7-2 for a race which provides the middle leg of the £1 million chase triple crown, in between the Betfair Chase and the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

 

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