Tuesday, March 14, 2023

AMERICAN Grand National hero, Hewick, may not take his place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday. With rain forecast and the ground getting heavier every day, trainer John Hanlon, is keeping an eye on the condition of the course. If the going gets softer, there is no way he will allow the horse to take its place in the field.

The wet weather could put paid to Shark Hanlon’s Cheltenham Gold Cup dream with Hewick
Photo: ©INPHO/James Crombie

From the time, Hewick won the 2022 Sandown Betfair Gold Cup and followed up with victory in the Grade A Galway Plate, the hope was that he would run in the Gold Cup. He lost nothing in defeat when coming down at the last at the Listowel Festival and Hewick romped to victory in the American Grand National. The dream was very much alive then but the rain has forced a rethink.

“If the ground gets heavy he won’t run. It will be very disappointing because we have set the whole year around this but there is nothing we can do about it,” said trainer, Shark Hanlon on Monday morning. He is still hopeful.

“I think we are getting more rain here than in England at the moment,” he suggested.

“The horse will travel over on Wednesday and we will make a decision on Friday morning. We have no choice. We would love to run him but for the health and safety of the horse if the ground doesn’t suit him I won’t run him.”

The trainer,  who has his house and gallops right at the Carlow-Kilkenny border on the Royal Oak to Goresbridge road, is pragmatic about the situation he finds himself in.

“Listen, Liverpool is only weeks away and usually the ground in Aintree is good. We will dream away. That is all we can do,” he says indicating that the Grand National is still a target.

Meanwhile his Shark Hanlon Racing Club syndicate is getting ready for summer racing.

In Pahlavi and Fast Medicine, he has two horses who could be set to give a lot of enjoyment to its owners.

“The syndicate is going brilliant. We have it nearly full. We are after getting a lot of members and I couldn’t be happier,” says John who says the weather dashed his plans for a runner at the weekend.

“One was to run in Gowran on Saturday but I didn’t run him as the ground was too soft. They are two summer horses and as soon as the ground gets good, they will be ready to run. The syndicate is going to have a lot of fun. It is a great syndicate and costs no-one a fortune,” acknowledged Hanlon.

As regards Hewick and the Gold Cup, it is a question of waiting and hoping.

“What will be will be. There is nothing we can do about it.”

By Kieran Murphy

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