Hewick In the Mix for Leading Staying Chases This Year

With victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton, it has already been an excellent campaign for staying chaser Hewick. However, the season could get even better for the Irish-based horse, as he is set to feature in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National in the second half of the campaign.

The nine-year-old beat some of the best three-mile chasers in the UK and Ireland on Boxing Day at Kempton. That result will give his connections a lot of confidence that their horse can have further success in some of the sport’s biggest races.

Blue Riband Event Next for Kempton Hero

Hewick came from last to third in the closing stages of the 2023 King George VI Chase, as many of his rivals struggled in the closing stages of the race. He is expected to relish the extra distance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

The Blue Riband event of the Cheltenham Festival takes place over a distance of three miles, two and a half furlongs. The runners in the feature race of the week also have the hill at Cheltenham racecourse to contend with after the final obstacle.

Hewick is now +1400 in the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is bidding to become the first horse since Long Run in 2011 to complete the King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup double. Those backing the Irish horse should consider the leading free bets Cheltenham ahead of the race. For example, Paddy Power is offering up to £50 in free bets on horse racing for new customers placing bets on the Jumps meeting.

If Hewick does line up in this season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, it will be Hewick’s second appearance in the race. He made his debut in the Cheltenham Festival contest in 2023, falling at the penultimate obstacle in the race won by Galopin Des Champs.

Grand National the Ultimate Test of Stamina

The Grand National at Aintree is also thought to be under consideration for Hewick this season. The world’s most famous steeplechase takes place over the marathon distance of four miles, two and a half furlongs, the longest race on the calendar in National Hunt racing.

Should Hewick be entered in the race, connections will find out their horse’s weight allocation in late February. Given he now has an official rating of 169, he is likely to have one of the highest weight allocations in the field.

The six-time chaser winner does have some experience of running a Grand National event, as he featured in the Midlands Grand National in 2022. Unfortunately for those involved in the horse, he was pulled up in that race. He also featured in the American Grand National, a race he won on his trip to North America.

Irish horses have an excellent record in the Grand National at Aintree. Five of the last seven renewals of the race have been won by horses trained in Ireland. Hewick’s trainer John Hanlon will be hoping his chaser can add his name to the roll of honor.

The 2024 Cheltenham Gold Cup takes place on March 15, while the Grand National is scheduled a month later on April 13.

Cover Credits: SportingLife

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