Sizing John pulled off a unique Gold Cup hat-trick last season and Jessica Harrington’s 2017 Horse of the Year candidate is on course to try and claim the first leg of another singular Triple Crown on Saturday.
A million sterling bonus is up for grabs if any horse can win this weekend's Betfair Chase before going to land the King George VI Chase at Christmas and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
On Monday Harrington described the ‘Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown’ as like “doing the lottery” but reported Sizing John, who is 20-1 to pull off the feat this season, as on course to take his chance in Saturday’s first leg.
“It will be very hard to win the three races. It’s a bit like doing the lottery. If the first number doesn’t come up you know your fate for the rest of them.
“I would like to bring him back to the Gold Cup but the last two winners of that race (Coneygree and Don Cossack) haven’t even got back to Cheltenham. From that point of view, Plan A is to get him there. Anything else would be a bonus,” she said.
Harrington trained Sizing John to win the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last season prior to his dramatic ‘Blue Riband’ success at Cheltenham. Sizing John finished a wonderful season with victory in the Gold Cup at Punchestown.
Since then Sizing John's owners, Ann and Alan Potts, have both passed away which will make Saturday's return to action by their Gold Cup hero an emotional occasion.
“He’s been to the Curragh to gallop around on the sand, to Naas and on Sunday to Punchestown. In Naas he went a full two miles over fences and at Punchestown he galloped a mile and a half,” Harrington said.
“My only worry is that three hard races last year might leave a mark on him. But he had a good few hard races the year before and seemed to come out of it very well,” she added.