Tom Scudamore riding Thistlecrack to victory
Thistlecrack confirmed his position as the stand-out in his division as he comfortably won the Ryanair World Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Travelling beautifully throughout for Tom Scudamore, the Colin Tizzard-trained eight-year-old led two out and shrugged aside the brave Alpha Des Obeaux to be crowned the champion three-miler.
Cole Harden made the running but he could not reproduce last year's heroics as Thistlecrack stormed past.
The even-money favourite stormed up the hill to pull seven lengths clear of Alpha Des Obeaux. Festival regular Bobs Worth – winner of the Gold Cup in 2013 – plugged on for third place some 22 lengths away, with Cole Harden fourth.
Scudamore said: "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!
"I always had lots of confidence in my fella, once we jumped the last it was all over. That was fantastic, what a racehorse. I think it's fair to say he's the best I've sat on.
"I wouldn't mind jumping a fence on him, but he's very good over hurdles. Wherever he goes, I'll be following him, that's for sure."
Tizzard said: "We didn't expect it to be that easy, it's the World Hurdle, isn't it?
"But he's been like that all season hasn't he and it's lovely to get him here in the same form again.
"He's huge, but he wasn't always like that, Heather and John (Snook, owners) had to be very patient with him, he's just grown into himself in the last 12 months.
"He's gone from being quite a nice horse to a superstar. He's as good as they get.
"Whether he jumps a fence next year I don't know.
"There's been pressure for the last three weeks, every day was another one ticked off, we've got to do the work with the horses, you can't just trot them.
"I thought as I was older I could handle it (the pressure), but it's good when they win.
"Now this one is done we can look forward to Cue Card (in the Gold Cup) tomorrow.
"I said I wasn't going to have a drink today, but I might have a half."