Thistlecrack only fifth on his return
Thistlecrack had to settle for fifth on his eagerly-awaited re-appearance as Beer Goggles caused a huge upset in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury yesterday.
The Grade Two contest was billed as a match between last year's winner Unowhatimeanharry and the brilliant Thistlecrack, which was making his first competitive appearance since being beaten by the ill-fated Many Clouds at Cheltenham in January.
Richard Woollacott's Beer Goggles, a widely unconsidered 40/1 chance, was sent straight to the front by Richard Johnson, with a strong-travelling Thistlecrack his nearest pursuer.
The race began in earnest from the home turn and it was soon clear the Colin Tizzard-trained 11/10 favourite was emptying quickly, eventually weakening to finish well beaten in the hands of Tom Scudamore.
Unowhatimeanharry knuckled down after the final flight in an attempt to claw back the leader, but Beer Goggles was not for catching and came home two-and-a-quarter lengths clear.
Scudamore said: "He's just got tired going to the second-last. Until that point I was very happy with him. He's got all the same enthusiasm and jumped superbly. He didn't feel any different to the horse I rode 10 months ago."
Meanwhile, on the domestic scene, Getoutwhenyoucan's Handicap Hurlde victory was the highlight of a Limerick four-timer for Mark Walsh.