JESSICA Harrington has confirmed Gold Cup winner Sizing John will be aimed at the National Hunt Triple Crown after Jockey Club racecourses announced a £1m bonus will be on offer once again.
Any horse able to win the Betfair Chase at Haydock, the King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham will earn its connections the huge bonus.
Since its inception in 2005, only Kauto Star has won all three races in the same season, with Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card coming agonisingly close a couple of years ago when he fell in the Gold Cup having won the first two legs.
Sizing John – owned by Barnsley-born Alan Potts whose wife Ann died recently – completed a Gold Cup treble at Cheltenham, Punchestown and Leopardstown last season.
“This bonus is a great extra incentive and builds the season towards a crescendo for the sport,” said Harrington who enjoyed success in the past with her champion two mile chaser Moscow Flyer.
“Ever since Sizing John won in April at Punchestown we have had the Triple Crown on our minds. Our aim is to start him off in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November. It’s exciting to have a horse to run in these races.”
Nicky Henderson has also revealed that Might Bite will have the bonus as a target – the progressive horse won at Doncaster before landing Grade One novice chases at both Cheltenham and Aintree.
“The Chase Triple Crown is a fantastic initiative,” he said. “It focuses your mind as to where to start the season if you want a chance of winning the Triple Crown. Might Bite’s main objective is the King George so it would certainly make sense to start at Haydock.”
Serial interloper Richard Melia, the man who gatecrashed Sizing John’s Cheltenham Gold Cup celebrations in March, is set to be banned from all tracks owned by Arena Racing Company after appearing in the winner’s enclosure at Yarmouth yesterday.
Melia has previously been spotted next to Frankel on Champions Day back in 2012 while he washed down Sue and Harvey Smith’s Auroras Encore after the Yorkshire horse won the 2013 Grand National. He then walked alongside the horse into the winner’s enclosure.
Melia was present in the Yarmouth paddock after the Jim Crowley-ridden Gabr won the opener. Glen Tubby, executive director at Yarmouth, confirmed Melia had been ejected and expects ARC to ban him from its venues in the future.
Melia’s antics go back to 1996 when pictured with Collier Bay after his Champion Hurdle victory. He said: “I only did it because I had a bet on the horse. It was not a real one, just a friendly one.
“I will have to go to the Breeders’ Cup next as they are on to me in England. I’ve done other sports since the Gold Cup. I did the Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko fight and shook hands with them both after the fight.”
Ten day bans handed down to this year’s Grand National-winning jockey Derek Fox, as well as Sean Quinlan and Stephen Mulqueen, have been reduced to two on appeal.
They argued that officials at Perth did not deploy flags in the correct position when a chase race had to be voided due to a stricken horse on the run-in.
Take Cover, winner of the Beverley Bullet, has been declared for tomorrow’s Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury by Bawtry trainer David Griffiths.