Trainer Jessica Harrington says Gold Cup hero Sizing John is as ‘fit as he can be without a race’ ahead of Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.
There had been speculation Sizing John had suffered a setback in his prep-work after the seven-year-old drifted to 5/2 second-favourite for this weekend’s Grade One contest, but Harrington insists all is well.
Sizing John has been usurped at the head of the betting by Charlie Hall Chase winner Bristol De Mai, with Nigel Twiston-Davies’ grey now favourite at 5/4.
“Sizing John galloped over a mile and a half after racing at Punchestown on Sunday. That went grand and I was very happy,” said Harrington.
“He jumped around Naas over two miles the previous weekend and did that very well. He has also been to the Curragh and galloped around on the sand. He’s as fit as we can have him without having a race.
“My only worry is that the three hard races he had last season might leave a mark on him. But he had hard races the season before and he came out of those well, so he should be fine.”
According to the trainer, Sizing John’s best trait is his ability to clear fences at speed. His aim this season is to mount a bid for the JCR Jumps Triple Crown and the £1m Bonus on offer for winning the Betfair Chase, the King George at Kempton and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
It won’t be easy, admits Harrington, but the bid can only start in one place.
“He’s a very relaxed horse. His real trump card is he can jump at two-mile speed in a three-mile race. Every time he lands, you can steady him back and let him fill up his lungs,” she added.
“It’s a big day on Saturday. It’s a very good race and everybody will be gunning for Sizing John.
“It will be very, very hard to win those three races in the Triple Crown. If it happens, it happens.
“It’s like doing the lotto and watching the numbers coming out – if you don’t have the first number, you have no chance. The first number for Sizing John comes at Haydock on Saturday and we hope he can do it.”
Last year’s winner Cue Card is 3/1 for the Betfair Chase, having fallen on his reappearance in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby last month.