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Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

'Fantastic' Sizing John delighting Harrington after summer of fun

Sizing John: no bigger than 6-1 to retain his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown in March
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Sizing John became the first horse to win the Irish Gold Cup, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup in the same season last spring and is no bigger than 6-1 to retain his crown at Cheltenham in March. In the first of a week-long series catching up with some of the star names in jumping, Jessica Harrington brings us up to date with her chasing sensation  

Where did he spend his holidays?
He's our Gold Cup hero so we didn't let him go anywhere! He stayed here in Moone with me and I kept a close eye on him. He seemed to love every second of the sun, and seeing him enjoying himself out in the field was always a lovely sight.

How did he summer?
Fantastically. We were thinking of sending him to Weight Watchers as he looked as though he'd enjoyed his summer a bit too much, but he deserved that. He had a terrific spring for us and no horse deserved a bit of summer fun more than him. He's back to work now though, as it's all systems go for the season ahead.

When will we see him again?
Our aim is to start him off in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on November 25. He looks fantastic. We're keen to have a crack at the £1 million bonus for winning the three races at Haydock, Kempton (King George) and Cheltenham (Gold Cup). It's exciting to have a horse to run in those races, and the triple crown has always been on our minds since he won at Punchestown.

People's champ: Sizing John and Robbie Power after winning the Punchestown Gold Cup in April
What is his long-term objective?
The Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. He developed into a top-class stayer last spring and produced his best performance at Cheltenham. It would be great to get back there and defend his crown. It's the pinnacle for every staying chaser and he's the champion staying chaser at the moment. 

What excites you most about him?
He's still only seven and to win the Gold Cup at such a young age was a remarkable achievement. He's had only three runs over three miles or further and has won them all. I can never remember being so excited ahead of a season. We have two horses – Our Duke is the other – in the top four of the betting for the Gold Cup, and that is very unusual for me. Sizing John was my first runner in the race last season.

Power dilemma

Robbie Power could have a big decision to make come March if stablemates Sizing John and Our Duke make it to the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in one piece.

Paddy Power go 4-6 the jockey stays loyal and rides defending champion Sizing John, while it is 11-10 he puts his faith in 14-length Irish Grand National winner Our Duke, who is rated 167, just 1lb below his stablemate. 

Our Duke: 11-10 with Paddy Power that Robbie Power rides the Irish Grand National winner in the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup
The bookmakers' spokesman Paul Binfield said: "We think this could be a very popular market as both Sizing John and Our Duke have big bands of supporters." 

Sizing John is a best-priced 6-1 for the Gold Cup, while Our Duke, who looks set to step back into Grade 1 company for the JNWine.com Champion Chase in November, is on offer at 10-1.

Trainer Jessica Harrington reported: "Our Duke is back trotting and looks fantastic, as does Sizing John. Saying that, if both of them didn't look fantastic in August there'd be something wrong and I wouldn't be doing my job right!

"We'll kick off Our Duke's season at Down Royal. That looks the ideal starting point for him." 

We're keen to have a crack at the £1 million bonus for winning the three races at Haydock, Kempton (King George) and Cheltenham (Gold Cup)
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