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Charlie Austin: Thistlecrack is a banker in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham, and here’s the horse you should keep your eye on this year

After tipping 25/1 winner Cole Harden in 2015, Premier League star Charlie Austin is back to make it two World Hurdle winners on the spin

I still can’t believe Cole Harden came in for me at odds of 25/1 in the World Hurdle last year! It was about a week out from Cheltenham when I tipped him up on the Paddy Power Blog and he is definitely up there as one of my most memorable winners. No question about it. Now I’m hoping to make it two profitable World Hurdles in a row with a far more fancied runner.

On a Roll Thanks to Cole

I liked Cole Harden going into last year’s race and I got the chance to speak to trainer Warren Greatrex about him before the Festival. Warren said he was going there with an excellent chance, although not many people were giving him much of a hope. He was very much under the radar, but at 25/1 he was a great price if he had a big race in him.

Then he went and surprised us all – even me – and pinged in. Not only did he win but he won well. He didn’t sneak it in a photo finish or won because of luck in-running– he was three or four lengths clear of Saphir Du Rheu. It was a great ride from Gavin Sheehan who led from the front and set the pace of the race that day. Cole Harden really kicked on as they turned for home and it was great to watch.

Without a doubt that has been probably my biggest-priced winner. The most memorable one as well. I might have had an outsider win at Sprint Valley or something, but nothing like a 25/1 winner on the biggest stage – The Cheltenham Festival!

Luckily this year’s renewal looks far more straightforward.

Taking Over the World

Thistlecrack () is probably the best bet of the week. He has been outstanding this season.

They’re saying Cole Harden () could spring a surprise again if the ground goes good, but the way Thistlecrack has demolished the opposition so far has to blow you away. He could run riot in the World Hurdle. He has always looked comfortable in his races and when he’s been asked to kick on, jockey Tom Scudamore has flown on him. He knows that he has some serious horse underneath him.

Incredibly, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.

The Master Plan

The Excel Syndicate which I co-own is now more than one-year-old and it has been a thrilling 12 months. There have been plenty of ups and downs, a few horses that haven’t performed and a couple that have gone on to produce some really smart runs.

There’s a new two-year old that we’re really excited about and is well worth putting in your tracker: Master Billy.

He’s come on well and William Miur the trainer is really pleased with him so we’re looking forward to his first season with us. It would be easy to tell punters to keep their eye on our other star Florencio, because she’s proven already but I’m really excited about Master Billy. He’s very forward and has shown some nice work at home so he could seriously be one for punter’s to keep on side this season.

What do you think?