Harrington has million in mind for Gold Cup hero Sizing John
Jessica Harrington has set her sights on more gold after revealing her ambition to let Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cup winner Sizing John chase the £1 million bonus Jockey Club Racecourses have offered in the previous two seasons for any horse completing the Betfair Chase, King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup.
However, it has yet to be confirmed if the bonus will again be in operation for the 2017-18 season, although following Harrington’s surprise announcement, the racecourse group appears keen on the idea.
Paul Fisher, group managing director of Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “We’ve been delighted with the interest our Chase Triple Crown has received recently thanks to the £1m bonus initiative and it’s fantastic the connections of Sizing John and other top horses want to win those races in the 2017-18 jumps season.
“We insure the bonus each year and provided that’s possible this summer we’d be delighted to offer it again. We will make an announcement as soon as possible.”
The £1m bonus, which in the past has been an insured sum funded from the marketing budgets used to promote the three Grade 1 contests involved, was initially offered as a one-off for the 2015-16 Jumps season in memory of Kauto Star – the only horse to have won the three races since the inception of the Betfair Chase in 2005.
After Cue Card had won the first two legs before falling three fences from home when disputing the lead in the 2016 Gold Cup, it was decided to repeat the initiative last season.
All roads will again lead to Cheltenham in March for Sizing John but instead of sticking on home turf in the build-up, Harrington revealed plans to chase the lucrative bonus, running at Haydock and Kempton before the Gold Cup.
"I think [owner] Alan Potts wants to try and win the £1m bonus in England,” said the trainer, seemingly unaware the bonus has yet to be confirmed. "So it's the Haydock race and then the King George before the Gold Cup."
Stablemate Our Duke, who emerged as a credible Gold Cup opponent to Sizing John with an easy win in the Irish Grand National, will stay closer to home before a possible clash.
Speaking to At The Races, Harrington said: "Our Duke will definitely stay this side of the water. The ground doesn't matter now as he went on good ground at Fairyhouse.
"If the ground was safe at Down Royal he'd go there [for the JNwine.com Champion Chase], then Christmas [for the Lexus at Leopardstown] and then the Irish Gold Cup."