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Thread: The Road to the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup

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    Senior Member granger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Euronymous View Post
    Something like the Kinloch Brae
    I think he is the type of horse who would be best served with a different trainer.

    No slight on Willie but a smaller yard or at least someone like GE who is a genius at placing handicap chasers might get more from a horse like this.
    Some people say hes the best since Arkle and thats certainly true when you look at what hes done

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    Super Moderator Diamond Geezer's Avatar
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    Can anyone see Altior running in the GC ? Current price of 50/1 would look big were he to take that route.

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    Senior Member Grasshopper's Avatar
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    Trainer far too contrary to commit ante-post cash, and horse probably wont stay anyway.
    "Beat the price and lose. It's what we do".

    SlimChance, March 2018

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    Senior Member Euronymous's Avatar
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    Altior only steps up in trip if willie grows a pair and sends Footpad to the Tingle Creek - where of course he tears the reigning champ a new one.

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    Senior Member granger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond Geezer View Post
    Can anyone see Altior running in the GC ? Current price of 50/1 would look big were he to take that route.
    Probably not.
    Some people say hes the best since Arkle and thats certainly true when you look at what hes done

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    Senior Member Tanlic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond Geezer View Post
    Can anyone see Altior running in the GC ? Current price of 50/1 would look big were he to take that route.
    Have you been in the pub with our Marble?...never known you to talk shyte before

    I always thought given time Bellshill would develop into a top class performer and WPM has done a great job doing just that.

    His performance in the Irish Grand national giving away up to 28lbs was oustanding despite defeat and he really came of age when beating professional Gold Cupper Djakadam.

    He has a much better chance of winning a Gold Cup than Footpad who wouldn't get 3m2f in a horse box.

    Douvan was in a league of his own before fracturing his hip. Looked better than ever when running away with the Champion Chase only to fall.

    Never at any point was he travelling when 2nd to Un Des Sceaux. Whether that was down to a mental problem or a physical one I have no idea but he certainly was not himslef.

    Maybe and just maybe the break will see him get over whatever is ailing him and if it does then Gold Cup? King George? Champion Chase? he could win any of them.
    Formely Fist of Fury

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanlic View Post
    Looked better than ever when running away with the Champion Chase only to fall.
    lol

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    Shantou Flyer is class. Discuss.

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    He is not even in The Hennessy, betting, these bookies have no taste. I hope I don't have to wait until The William Hill on 14th March to see this fella put his best foot forward again.
    Last edited by Marble; 3rd September 2018 at 11:59 AM.

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    Speaking of class handicappers. Can anything come through the ranks, probably staring off at Newbury, to stake a claim for The GC?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marble View Post
    He is not even in The Hennessy, betting, these bookies have no taste. I hope I don't have to wait until The William Hill on 14th March to see this fella put his best foot forward again.
    33/1 in half a dozen books. Needs to come down at least 7lb.
    The older I get the better I was.

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    Super Moderator Diamond Geezer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marble View Post
    Speaking of class handicappers. Can anything come through the ranks, probably staring off at Newbury, to stake a claim for The GC?
    You tell us Marbs


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    Quote Originally Posted by archie View Post
    33/1 in half a dozen books. Needs to come down at least 7lb.
    Probably have to have soft or heavy ground too. I'd stay loyal if he got there on the day though and the ground was right for him.
    Last edited by Marble; 3rd September 2018 at 1:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marble View Post
    Speaking of class handicappers. Can anything come through the ranks, probably staring off at Newbury, to stake a claim for The GC?
    Potentially Give Me a Copper, even if he isn't really a handicapper per se. He's very very highly rated at Ditcheat, but is a bit of a difficult customer. He's definitely being aimed at Newbury.

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    I like Ms Parfois a lot. Probably won't go near Newbury, but I still like her a lot.
    Last edited by G-G; 3rd September 2018 at 7:41 PM.

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    Channon's horse has another decent race in him

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    Quote Originally Posted by G-G View Post
    I like Ms Parfois a lot. Probably won't go near Newbury, but I still like her a lot.
    She has had a wind op during the Summer

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    Kate Harrington talks to the RP about a month in the diary of Sizing John

    (Admin - feel free to remove if copyright concerns etc.)

    September is upon us and the shades of autumn will soon become more visible, with the evenings drawing shorter, students returning to school and the mighty band of jump warriors we have come to know and love preparing to do battle for another season.

    It's been a summer full of vivid colour for the Jessica Harrington stable, but the double blue-and-white-capped colours of Alpha Centauri will soon make way at the Commonstown conveyor belt of talent for the green, yellow and red of Sizing John colours that turned to gold at Cheltenham in 2017.

    If Sizing John were to have a report card for his first season with Harrington it would surely have been that of a model student.

    He was top of the class with straight As for his triple Gold Cup-winning heroics, although his teacher would probably have noted that no longer being paired up for assignments with Douvan, who has had his measure seven times, helped to improve his classroom performance.The early signs for last term were that the fire burned brighter than ever in the Midnight Legend gelding.

    Harrington wisely sidestepped Bristol De Mai's 57-length Betfair Chase procession on heavy ground at Haydock and instead allowed Sizing John to teach Djakadam a lesson at Punchestown, producing an almost flawless performance in the John Durkan Memorial Chase two weeks later.

    Sizing John at this point was the teacher's pet. A general 4-1 favourite to maintain the Cheltenham Gold Cup and on course for a crack at the race formerly known as the Lexus at Leopardstown.

    However, the then seven-year-old, owned by the late Ann and Alan Potts, failed to pass his Christmas test as 9-10 favourite, finishing an underwhelming seventh and being found clinically abnormal post race.

    The Harrington team were sent back to the drawing board, opting on going straight to the Cotswolds for a championship defence, although he was cruelly ruled out of that assignment owing to a hairline non-displaced fracture of his pelvis just eight days before the tapes went up for the race later won by Native River.

    Having been absent since December 28 of last year, Sizing John's 2018-19 season will surely be met with excitement, curbed by trepidation, as the chaser who once was king faces a long road back to do what only Kauto Star has done before in regaining the Cheltenham crown.

    The person who knows the five-time Grade 1 winner better than anyone is assistant trainer Kate Harrington, and she has spoken to the Racing Post about the 169-rated chaser's first month back to school on the way to potentially challenging the likes of Presenting Percy, Native River, Might Bite and Footpad in March.

    Week 1
    Monday, July 30 to Sunday, August 5


    The early stages of Sizing John's pre-training have never been identical since he joined Jessica Harrington, as the in-form stable now approach their third season with last year's Irish Gold Cup hero.

    Having joined the team in Moone, County Kildare in late September 2016 with plenty of his groundwork already completed by his former trainer Henry de Bromhead, it was only last year that the Harringtons had the full opportunity of laying their own foundations from scratch after a summer break.

    However, as he now returns from the issue that ruled him out of March's Cheltenham centrepiece, Kate Harrington revealed this season's preparations have differed again, with an emphasis on dressage in the early stages of his recovery.

    "We did a lot of rehab with him for his fractured pelvis," she said. "He actually went off to do dressage for two weeks with Sam Watson, who is on the Irish World Equestrian Games team."

    She explained of the recovery method: "Obviously when you have the injury he had you're going to have a bit of muscle wastage as a result, he had to stand in for a while. Getting those muscles back working and teaching him that it's not going to hurt, that he can use himself the way he previously did, is where the dressage comes in."

    She added: "It's the same with humans. If you break your wrist you will initially subconsciously look after it and not pressurise it as you previously did. With a horse it's just a case of teaching him that it won't hurt anymore through activities like this so he can resume normal service."

    The classy stayer, priced between 12-1 and 20-1 for next year's Gold Cup, has been kept active in his recuperation and returned home for a week of cantering before enjoying some well-deserved time off.

    The amateur rider, who partnered her first winner aboard Moscow Flyer in 2007, said: "Sizing John's been back in training since the middle of July and he had only two and a bit weeks off because of his rehab. He spent that break with us and stayed in the bottom field, down by the gallop."

    She added of the versatile performer's physical progress: "Even though he had only a little time off he still managed to put on a good bit of weight considering! He had a great time."

    The routine of readying a three-miler chaser for future winter battles is a long, steady process and Sizing John is spending time on the walker at this stage.

    Considering his previous injury and the current early stage of his programme, the 2017 HRI Horse of the Year will not be asked any serious questions in his preparations.

    Week 2
    Monday, August 6 to Sunday, August 12


    Jessica Harrington's ability to produce high-quality winners under both codes is quite remarkable and the fact she will probably have one of the favourites for a Churchill Downs Grade 1 and a top-level staying chase at Down Royal on the same day in November is a testament to her training talents and versatility.

    A morning on the gallops at her Kildare base, which in the last two years has produced the winners of an Irish Grand National and Irish 1,000 Guineas, sees thoroughbreds of all shapes and sizes who require different training regimes, and Sizing John's routine at this stage is based around developing a deep fitness.

    "Once he arrived back he spent roughly two weeks on the walker and then began trotting, stepping up his workload as time goes on," said Kate. "We like to get Sizing John trotting in the indoor arena and then out around the gallops."

    She added: "We're trying to get a real base fitness into him. A core, hard-fit horse is what we're trying to aiming for, because you need to have a strong foundation before stepping on the gas in his work."

    The step up for next week's activities will include cantering, although Harrington is keen to stress this is done at pedestrian speeds in comparison to what will come later in Sizing John's training regime.

    She said: "After a week or ten days of that we'll get him cantering, but this will purely be lobbing along. From there onwards we have to train him off our eye in terms of when to step him up again.

    "All horses are different and some horses can step up quickly, whereas others will have to stay at that hacking level for a little longer."

    Week 3
    Monday, August 13 to Sunday, August 19


    Sizing John is slowly but surely going through the gears and getting reacquainted with regular rider Robbie Power, who during the summer underwent surgery on his shoulder that kept him away from the racecourse for a little more than two months.

    Robbie Power has won on five of his seven starts aboard Sizing John, including the treasured Cheltenham Gold Cup
    Edward Whitaker
    Horse and rider appear to have struck up a strong relationship, winning on five of their seven starts together, and their mutual trust was seen in full effect when the eight-year-old dug deep to answer Power's every call in battle to land the 2017 Punchestown Gold Cup from Djakadam and Coneygree a race for the ages.

    Power wrote in his Boylesports blog: "He was in great form when I rode out on him on Thursday morning, he looks fantastic and was moving well. Hes come back in great shape and, while hes just doing steady cantering at the moment, he got a good grip and put my shoulder up to a good test."

    A horse with plenty of character, Sizing John apparently relishes his riders playing music for him and has been seen in social media postings from Harrington to bob his head up and down to his favourite melodies after cantering.

    Ed Sheeran's Castle On The Hill and Galway Girl are part of the star performer's playlist in the ritual that was started by Power after the Irish Gold Cup, but Roar by Katy Perry is the likely favourite head-rocker of the joint-highest-rated chaser in Ireland (on 169, alongside Ryanair Chase winner Balko Des Flos).

    "He still listens away to his tunes," she confirmed. "When Robert was in riding him he got the music going and it was great to see he still loves his bit of Katy Perry. John is brilliant to deal with and loves the attention."

    Week 4
    Monday, August 20 to Sunday, August 26

    Bouncing back to reclaim a title at the top level of any sport is undoubtedly a major challenge, but in the realm of the staying chaser the task can often be mammoth, with full enthusiasm for such a gruelling division of heavyweight racing essential to succeed.

    Jessica Harrington herself admitted to harbouring uncertainty about how Sizing John would respond to his first start in last year's John Durkan since having three tough battles in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February, the Cheltenham Gold Cup a month later and the Punchestown equivalent in late April, but her soldier quashed any doubts and managed to deliver a top-notch performance.

    Question marks may linger, however, as to whether the unprecedented Gold Cup treble and impressive comeback bottomed the former two-mile Grade 1-winning novice hurdler, but Kate Harrington has no doubts as to whether Sizing John retains all his old sparkle ahead of the upcoming jumps season, at least judging by his behaviour at this point of proceedings.

    "He still has every bit of enthusiasm that he showed before the injury," she said buoyantly.

    "For example, I initially wasn't riding owing to a shoulder injury, so Paddy Kennedy was on him at home John nearly buried him a few times on the gallops!"

    She added: "When I got talking to Paddy I asked him was it happening over on one side of the gallop, because you have to know his quirks. He said to me, 'Yeah, he's very sharp there, isn't he? Jesus, he takes some amount of grip I thought he was a bus because you rode him out every day!'

    "I was keeping a close eye on Paddy."

    Week 5
    Monday, August 27 to Sunday, September 2


    More than a month on since making his return from a break, the gutsy stayer continues to please and his appetite for racing is fully intact, to judge by a briefing from Harrington on Wednesday.

    "Robert [Power] was in this morning riding him out and when other horses caught up with him it almost seemed to anger Sizing John," she said. "What we're doing is a lot of long slow work, but he's well in himself and it's great to know his current work isn't taking anything out of him."

    While plans for his return to competitive action have yet to be finalised, Harrington revealed their chasing star could well begin his season with an unorthodox starting point for a Gold Cup hopeful potentially getting the ball rolling over the minimum distance of two miles in TheTote.com Fortria Chase at Navan on Sunday, November 11, a race the stable won with the mighty Moscow Flyer in 2003 and 2004.

    The Grade 1 JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal a week earlier is also an option, but connections will not have fond memories of last year's race when the ill-fated Our Duke put up no sort of performance as the 5-6 favourite, subsequently scoping abnormally.

    Beginning Sizing John's route back to Cheltenham over a trip well short of that of the Gold Cup would also partially replicate the road taken on his way to success in the 2017 festival highlight.

    Harrington explained: "Down Royal is an obvious target, but from speaking to Robert he's been saying we could run him back over two miles the following weekend in the Fortria Chase. That would mean we wouldn't necessarily give him a real three-miler test straight away after his time off.

    "Mum will obviously make that decision closer to the time, but he has shown previously he has enough speed for racing at shorter distances. We'll let John tell us at the point we need to make the call."

    Should connections opt for a date in the north of Ireland then the trainer could well end up missing the engagement owing to Alpha Centauri's potential participation in the Breeders' Cup on the same day, although Kate will surely be on hand to see her pride and joy at Down Royal, should the clash occur.

    Sizing John is part of an elite group of Gold Cup winners including Desert Orchid, Best Mate and Kauto Star to have won a chase over less than three miles the season after landing the top Cheltenham prize.

    Harrington said: "Something worth remembering is that in the year in which he won the Gold Cup his seasonal reappearance came over two miles and one furlong in a Leopardstown Christmas Grade 1 when second to Douvan.

    "We'll be getting him out earlier than in 2016 this time around, but it might replicate the campaign that saw him win at Cheltenham a little more. We could get him sharper before sending him over three miles, which can be a bit of a slog."

    She added: "You could leave your big season's target behind in a gruelling race and our entire year will be geared towards getting him back to Cheltenham. It's all about regaining that Gold Cup crown."

    Although these are only the first steps in a season-long programme to prepare Sizing John for a return to the promised land at Prestbury Park in March, it's fair to say the first month of the former champion's training has gone very much to plan.

    "We couldn't be happier with him at the minute," said Harrington, with the determined team leaving no stone unturned in getting their star into prime condition so as he can show his true capabilities when fully tuned.

    The foundation has been laid. It won't be long before the former king begins to eye the throne once more.
    Alcohol, because no good story ever started with "I was eating this salad..."

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  24. #59
    Senior Member granger's Avatar
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    I didn't overly like him as a novice but Elliott sure thought a lot of death duty before he got injured

    awaiting news on him
    Some people say hes the best since Arkle and thats certainly true when you look at what hes done

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    Senior Member tiggers1972's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond Geezer View Post
    Can anyone see Altior running in the GC ? Current price of 50/1 would look big were he to take that route.
    I had a small bet on this at the end of the season.

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