KEMPTON, England (AP) — Britain was hailing a new king of jump racing on Monday after Thistlecrack produced a flawless performance to win the King George VI Chase, one of the most prestigious races on the country's calendar.
The 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) race was billed as a head-to-head between stablemates Thistlecrack and Cue Card but it turned out to be a procession for the younger horse at Kempton, southwest of London, with winning jockey Tom Scudamore able to punch the air in celebration before crossing the line.
Thistlecrack, who set out an 11-10 favorite, won by about 3 1/4 lengths on only his fourth trip over fences. Cue Card (5-4), the 2015 champion, held on for second place in the five-horse race.
"For the first time in my life I'm pretty speechless," Scudamore said. "It's wonderful — I thought he'd win, but I never imagined he'd do it as easy as that."
The dominant force over hurdles last season, Thistlecrack had won all three of his previous races over fences this season but this was a huge step up — and his first meeting with Cue Card, another horse trained by Colin Tizzard.
Silviniaco Conti, a two-time winner of the race, took the small field along in the early stages, before Thistlecrack pulled his way to the front under Scudamore and was never passed.
Scudamore comes from a celebrated racing family, with his father (Peter) and grandfather (Michael) also jockeys.
"Between myself, my father and grandfather, we've had about 33,000 winners," Scudamore said, "and he's the best one of the lot."