Colin Tizzard believes Thistlecrack is the “forgotten horse for the Gold Cup” and is looking to start him off in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in the autumn.
The Dorset trainer has not lost faith in the former champion staying hurdler and feels time is still on the side of the 10-year-old.
Thistlecrack was confined to just two runs over the winter after an absence of 307 days, but Tizzard reports him to be 100 per cent again.
“Thistlecrack is back in the field now and he will have six weeks out,” he said.
“We had him fit a couple of weeks ago. Because he had the tendon injury after the Cotswold Chase and had eight months off, he is a huge horse and got totally unfit and wasn’t quite right this season.
“He had that little stress fracture which made him lame. We’ve started riding him again and the last bit has been better and he looks brilliant, but we couldn’t possibly keeping him going over the summer so he will have that off now.
“I don’t think he has gone, not at all. He wasn’t beaten far in the King George and he was lame afterwards. I’m sure he is just as good. He is only 10. There is plenty of time for him to have a good season.
“He is the one that will almost certainly go to Wetherby. Hopefully we can have a clear run with him and once the ground gets soft he can run.
“He is now a forgotten horse for the Gold Cup because you’ve not seen him much this year. They soon get forgotten.
“You’ve only got to remember what he was like in the World Hurdle and the King George. He is a brilliant horse and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be back at his best for another season.”
Tizzard is also mapping out a suitable programme for reigning Gold Cup hero Native River, with Cheltenham again the ultimate objective.
“We will try to do a couple more races with Native River before Christmas. I’m sure Haydock (Betfair Chase) will come into the equation,” he said.
“It would be nice to think we can run him four or five times next year.
“The reason we didn’t run him much this year was because he had that ligament problem.
“If everything goes right we will probably run him a bit more. A couple of times before Christmas and two or three times after.
“At the moment we are all gunning to try to win the next Gold Cup with him.”
He added: “Native River is right up there, as high as Cue Card ever was.
“He (Cue Card) won nine Grade Ones, which is a hell of a lot, but he has won a Gold Cup and Cue Card didn’t do that. You mustn’t take it away from Native River, as he is a brilliant horse already.
“We won 20 more races this year and a Gold Cup and nearly £2million in prize-money. I would take that next year if you want to hand that out to me as well!”