Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.
The 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day is the principal target this year for Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John.
The £1million Chase Triple Crown, that commences with the £200,000 Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday, was this season’s target for the seven-year-old until connections were forced to bypass the first leg due to forecast wet ground at Haydock.
Sizing John, whose owners Alan and Ann Potts have both passed away since his memorable victory at Cheltenham in March, is now likely to make his seasonal reappearance in the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown on December 10.
The Gold Cup winner, who last season also won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown and the Punchestown Gold Cup, is reported to be in good order for his comeback by trainer Jessica Harrington who has handled him since September 2016, having previously been trained by Henry De Bromhead.
“If Sizing John is as good as last year, I’ll be happy,” Harrington said. “Sizing John is seven, rising eight, and in theory horses should be at their optimum in their seven to eight season and then they slightly start to go downhill. My only worry is the three hard races last year might leave a mark on him but he had hard races the year before and seemed to come out of it very well.
“He is a very relaxed horse and his real strength is that he jumps chase fences at two-mile speed against three milers. When he lands, you can steady him up and go again.”
Reflecting on her association with Alan and Ann Potts, she added: “I only trained for Alan Potts for 18 months. It was fantastic for him to send me a couple of fillies in the spring last year and then said in the autumn he told me he was sending me Sizing John and Supasundae.
“Alan was very good to me and brought some nice horses into the yard. He allowed me to do what I wanted last season and was under a lot of stress with Ann not being well at all.
“The great thing was that Ann made it to Cheltenham, Aintree, Punchestown and France, which she loved. As Alan said at her funeral, Ann did everything she wanted to do. Ann loved the horses, she probably had more affinity with them than Alan did, although in making decisions Alan always put the horses first.
“Before Ann died, all the horses were changed to Ann and Alan Potts Limited partnership and I believe the plan is for the horses to continue to run until they get old, like myself.”