Colin Tizzard was relieved to finally school Thistlecrack on grass last weekend ahead of his next assignment in the Grade Two bet365 Novices' Chase at Newbury on Saturday.
Already favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after two strolls in novice company, last year’s dominant staying hurdler possesses a huge engine which has enabled him to win his races without coming off the bridle for the past two seasons.
However, last time out at Cheltenham there were the first signs that all might not be so straightforward for him when he made a couple of mistakes, without ever looking like falling.
"Last Saturday Tom Scudamore came in and schooled him," said Tizzard.
“It was the first time we’d actually been able to do it on the grass with him, which is what I’d been desperate to do.
“I wanted to get him jumping upsides other horses at speed, because in two races he hasn’t really had to do that yet.
“Everything went perfectly, he was upsides Native River and they both jumped super.
“They really got motoring and it should have sharpened him up.
“This is obviously another step up the ladder but I’m keen to get races into him.
“I don’t want to look beyond this yet, though.”
Thistlecrack is currently no bigger than 4-1 to win the Timico Gold Cup in March.
Tizzard's star has scared off most meaningful opposition at Newbury, although Paul Nicholls does send Cheltenham Festival winner Ibis Du Rheu into battle.
Rebecca Curtis runs Bigbadjohn, while Pinnacle Panda and Tajseer complete the field.