Shark Hanlon rules out Aintree Grand National run after heavy Gold Cup fall

Trainer has options between Punchestown Gold Cup or Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown

Hewick will miss next month’s Randox Aintree Grand National following his second-last fence fall in Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The hugely popular Shark Hanlon-trained horse was still in the Gold Cup firing line when coming down but has thankfully emerged unscathed from the spill.

However, Hanlon has ruled out a National tilt and will instead examine options between the Punchestown Gold Cup or possibly the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown the horse won last year.

“We are happy to have him home because he got an awful fall. He won’t go to the National. I would be 99 per cent sure. We’ll see how he is, but he has had such a fall. We’ll probably end up going back to Punchestown for the Gold Cup,” said Hanlon who was left with a frustrating sense of might have been at Cheltenham.


“He always hits a flat spot and he was just after coming out of it, and Jordan [Gainford] was very convinced that, while he might not have beaten the winner, he said, ‘I thought we might have been second’.

“If only the ground was better. He needs good ground and the ground would have been too soft for him, but he gave a goodish account of himself. I’d say the ground hasn’t been as soft for seven or eight years on the Friday,” added the trainer.

Navan’s rescheduled Webster Cup card takes place on Monday where the Aintree National stalwart Any Second Now will be widely fancied to land the Grade Two feature.

With Mark Walsh on the injury sidelines, Denis O’Regan comes in for the ride on the JP McManus-owned star, who’s been placed in the last two renewals of the Aintree spectacular and is a general 16-1 shot to make it third time lucky next month.

Monday’s most valuable contest is the €60,000 Irish Stallion Farms Novice Handicap Chase, where a combination of three miles and testing ground conditions look to put Yeah Man firmly in the mix.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column