Cheltenham Festival 2016: Thistlecrack and Vautour prove their star quality

Frank Dalleres
Follow Frank
Cheltenham Festival - St Patrick's Thursday
Thistlecrack landed his fourth win in a row by claiming the World Hurdle (Source: Getty)

Jockey Tom Scudamore hailed Thistlecrack as the best horse he has ridden after the Colin Tizzard-trained eight-year-old justified his favouritism with an emphatic World Hurdle victory at the Cheltenham Festival.

The season’s dominant staying hurdler left all but one of his rivals trailing and surged clear of Alpha Des Obeaux just before the last jump to win by seven lengths from the 8/1 chance.

“I’ve spent my whole life running around in these races, nearly getting there, and finally I’ve got a horse like this. It’s unbelievable, I never realised it could be so easy,” said Scudamore.

“I always had lots of confidence in him. Once we jumped the last it was all over. That was fantastic, what a racehorse. I think it’s fair to say he is the best I’ve sat on.”

Tizzard said Thistlecrack’s fourth successive win continued his transformation from “quite a nice horse to a superstar”, adding: “I said I wasn’t going to have a drink today, but I might have a half.”

The Ruby Walsh-Willie Mullins axis yielded its sixth win of the week as Rich Ricci’s even-money favourite Vautour romped to a six-length triumph in the Ryanair Chase.

The seven-year-old’s win made a mockery of pre-race concerns over his form, which led former Barclays boss Ricci to switch him from today’s Gold Cup earlier this week. Stablemate Valseur Lido was second.

Walsh had earlier claimed his 50th win at the Festival on Black Hercules in the opening JLT Novices’ Chase.