John ‘Shark’ Hanlon would “love to have another crack at the Gold Cup” with Hewick, as connections finalise plans for the upcoming season.
Famously purchased for just €850, Hewick has made a phenomenal rise through the ranks from useful staying handicap chaser to a bona fide Grade One contender over the past few seasons.
He enjoyed a fine 2022-23 campaign and having kicked off with Galway Plate success in the summer, would make a heroic raid on Far Hills to claim the American Grand National before being saved for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in which he was still going well when falling two from home.
He gained big-race compensation for that Prestbury Park tumble when claiming the Grade Two Oaksey Chase at Sandown before going on to contest the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil.
Hewick is currently enjoying a break at Hanlon’s County Carlow base after unsuccessfully trying to defend his Galway Plate crown and connections now need to weigh-up another trip Stateside or tailoring the eight-year-old’s campaign around a Gold Cup bid.
“He’s still having a break and we’re making decisions on which way we’re going to go with him,” said Hanlon.
“We might go back to America with him, but if not then I will just train him for a Gold Cup. I need to sit down and talk to the owner and see what he would like to do.
“He was a great horse last season for us and he came home from Galway perfect, the ground was just too soft there for him.
“We’ll either go to America or we’ll make a plan for the Gold Cup because he was running a cracker in the race last year. He was definitely going to be in the money and he wasn’t really trained for a Gold Cup last year because he went to America so we’ll have to make a decision.
“Do we want to go to Leopardstown at Christmas or in February and go for a Gold Cup? Or do we go to America? If we go to America, we probably won’t go for a Gold Cup so we have to make up our minds one way or the other.”
Hewick was sent off 40-1 for his shot at Gold Cup glory in 2023 but was massively outrunning his odds in the hands of Jordan Gainford as he was still in the mix, leading the runners into the straight, and only headed just before his challenge came to an end two out.
That huge effort came on soft ground and Hanlon is taking plenty of encouragement from that performance as he eyes up a return to Prestbury Park on a sounder surface.
“I would love to have another crack at the Gold Cup and when you have a horse of his class it is the race that everybody wants to win,” he added.
“He was running a cracker last year and the ground was the softest it has been in Cheltenham in years. The better the ground for us, the better the horse is so you have to take that into consideration.”