Skip to content

Cheltenham Gold Cup: Hewick could be sent straight to Festival after American Grand National victory for Shark Hanlon

Shark Hanlon's Hewick has enjoyed a remarkable year since winning the 2021 Durham National, taking the bet365 Gold Cup, the Galway Plate and the American National; he will now be trained with the Cheltenham Gold Cup in mind

Hewick ridden by jockey Jordan Gainford is in control of the bet365 Gold Cup
Image: Hewick, ridden by jockey Jordan Gainford, is in control of the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown

Hewick could head straight to the Cheltenham Gold Cup following his famous victory in the American Grand National at Far Hills in New Jersey.

Ridden by his regular pilot Jordan Gainford, the Shark Hanlon-trained seven-year-old made amends for a final-fence blunder in the Kerry National when bolting up by 11 and a half lengths in the States and follows in the hoofprints of Brain Power (2019) and Jury Duty (2018), who have both made successful raids across the Atlantic in recent years.

It was the third big chasing pot the bargain €850 buy has won this year following success in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and the Galway Chase in July, and his County Carlow handler was delighted with his "right little horse".

The best in the world head for the Breeders' Cup!
The best in the world head for the Breeders' Cup!

Watch every race from the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland live on Sky Sports Racing on November 4-5

"He bolted in," said Hanlon. "He's a right little horse, he's a little dinga. It was great for Irish racing, great for English racing, it was good for everything. Everything just went to plan, and I was amazed by the way he jumped - they are different fences to anywhere else."

This time last year Hewick was winning the Durham National at Sedgefield and exactly 12 months on his popular trainer is dreaming of Cheltenham Festival glory following a successful trip to New Jersey.

He will now be trained with the Prestbury Park blue riband in mind after a well-deserved rest following his exertions over the last 12 months.

Hewick races clear to win the 2022 Galway Plate
Image: Hewick races clear to win the 2022 Galway Plate

"I think he's improving the whole time and his next step is the Gold Cup," continued Hanlon, who paid an emotional tribute to the late Jack de Bromhead in his post-race interview.

Also See:

"From now on he'll be trained as a Gold Cup horse, and I might not run him between now and the Gold Cup. We'll see, he might have one run and I haven't made up my mind, we'll just see how he comes along.

Shark Hanlon (right) celebrates at Galway with Jordan Gainford
Image: Shark Hanlon (right) celebrates at Galway with Jordan Gainford

"But he's going to get a good break now until after Christmas and then we'll train him for the Gold Cup - maybe he'll get a run some time in February, we'll just have to see.

"It's been some journey since he won this day last year in the Durham National. He's brought us a long way and please God it doesn't stop here."

For Hanlon it has been a fantastic experience to take Hewick to the other side of the Atlantic and the handler talks of his disbelief that the seven-year-old appears to have developed a cult following in America.

Hewick's remarkable rise to Gold Cup contender

October 2017 - Bought for €850

Sept 2020 - Wins over hurdles at the 12th time of asking at Kilbeggan, rated 94

June 2021 - Wins on chase debut at Clonmel

October 2021 - Wins Durham National at Sedgefield as 3/1 favourite, rated 142

April 2022 - Wins bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown at 16/1, rated 149

July 2022 - Wins Galway Plate at 16/1, rated 155

October 2022 - Wins $250,000 American Grand National at Far Hills

He also provided a little glimpse into what the Stateside celebrations were like, with the Hanlon team joining forces with Gordon Elliott's Cullentra House ensemble as they enjoyed a double on the Far Hills card.

"I met people who had driven three or four hours to see Hewick because of his profile over the last couple of months, I couldn't believe it," he explained. "It's been amazing, Rachel (partner) and the two kids are here and we're having a ball. You should see the crowds that are there, even after the race.

Hewick races clear to win the 2022 Galway Plate
Image: Hewick races clear to win the 2022 Galway Plate

"We spent two hours there, Gordon and his team and ourselves, we all joined up together and we had plenty of food and plenty of drink for everyone - it was great for Gordon to have a double on the day, too. Three Irish winners on the big day was amazing.

"It was an unreal day and unreal night - it was mighty. We didn't let the side down anyway."

Vertem Futurity Trophy live on Sky Sports Racing
Vertem Futurity Trophy live on Sky Sports Racing

Watch as next year's Classic contenders do battle in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, live on Sky Sports Racing on Saturday, October 22

Around Sky