Connections of Thistlecrack have still to decide whether to pitch the exciting prospect into the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Trainer Colin Tizzard said it was a 50-50 call between taking on the cream of the seasoned staying chasers, that would include stablemate and last year’s winner Cue Card, or keeping to novice company.
The alternative would be to stick to opposition of similar experience in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on the same card.
Tizzard hinted that should the going be really soft, that would increase Thistlecrack’s chances of going for the King George.
He feels the stronger gallop of the big race might suit him better, but that thought is tempered by the fact Thistlecrack has not yet been asked to jump in public at such a pace in just three runs so far over fences.
“We’ve still not decided which race Thistlecrack will go for, We just want to make sure we choose the right race,” Tizzard said at a press day at his Dorset stables.
“A flat-out gallop in the King George might help him as he could easily sit in third or fourth and pick them up but it could also take him out of his comfort zone as he’s never done that pace over fences and that’s our issue.
“We had a long discussion with Tom Scudamore yesterday and things will become clearer as the days go on.
“The owners will listen to what we want to do but in the end they will make the decision.
“Jean Bishop (Cue Card’s owner) has been in racing long enough and knows we have got two very good horses and we’ve got to do best for both sets of owners.
“Thistlecrack’s jumping was fantastic last time but he’s never done the pace of the King George yet. If it came up softer, it may sway us more towards the King George.
“He has got everything and he’s not had to untap it yet. You all saw over hurdles last season that he can travel superbly well at any pace.
“He made one mistake at Cheltenham, that’s all. He landed on top of the ditch. He’s quite entitled to do that as he’s only a novice.
“I can’t really comment. We had a long discussion yesterday about the pros and cons about what to do but we’ve got another 12 days. We don’t want to make it now and then change our mind afterwards.
“Everyone will be kept in the picture and it could go 50-50.”