Cheltenham Festival Runners and Riders

Pot of Gold in Harrington’s Eyes

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Jessica Harrington has a million reasons to chase the three big Grade 1 chase races next season after confirming her desire for superstar charge Sizing John to try and claim the £1 million bonus offered by Jockey Club Racecourses over the previous two seasons. Her 2017 Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cup winner will need to complete a set of victories in the Betfair Chase, (November – Haydock) King George VI Chase (December – Kempton Park) and Cheltenham Gold Cup. (March – Festival)

Although the bonus has yet to be confirmed by the racecourse group, they appear keen on the idea following Harrington’s surprise announcement, group managing director of Jockey Club Racecourses, Paul Fisher said: “We’ve been delighted with the interest our Chase Triple Crown has received recently thanks to the £1m bonus initiative and it’s fantastic the connections of Sizing John and other top horses want to win those races in the 2017-18 jumps season. “We insure the bonus each year and provided that’s possible this summer we’d be delighted to offer it again. We will make an announcement as soon as possible.”

The bonus for winning the three Grade 1 contests, was initially offered as a one-off for the 2015-16 Jumps season in memory of the late great Kauto Star – the only horse to have won the three races since the inception of the Betfair Chase in 2005. Cue Card came so close to winning all 3 that season having won the first two legs and appearing to be somewhat unfortunate when falling three out when disputing the lead in the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Defending the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March is the priority for Sizing John but his build up will be very different this season; Harrington revealed plans to chase the lucrative bonus, intending to run at Haydock and Kempton before the Gold Cup. “I think [owner] Alan Potts wants to try and win the £1m bonus in England,” said Harrington, anticipating that the bonus will be confirmed. “So it’s the Haydock race and then the King George before the Gold Cup.”