Winning the Gold Cup would be life-changing

Irish trainer Shark Hanlon shares his love for £800 horse Hewick with chance of Cheltenham and Grand National doubleJohn “Shark” Hanlon has admitted it would be heartbreaking if Hewick were not able to run because of the ground conditions at Cheltenham – but insisted if his fan favourite horse won the Gold Cup then it would be life changing for the trainer. 

Hewick was a sensational winner of the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day last year, adding to successes in the bet365 Gold Cup, Galway Plate and American Grand National before reaching a career pinnacle at Kempton. 

Hewick and newly-named BoyleSports ambassador Hanlon are all set to travel over to Cheltenham next week for the prestigious four-day Cheltenham Festival with Hewick a 14/1 shot, according to the latest Cheltenham Gold Cup odds from the bookmaker. 

The trainer has said it would be a career-defining moment were his bargain £800 win one of the biggest prizes in racing. 

“The most important thing is that the rain stops and we get good ground,” Hanlon said. 

“If we don’t get good ground we are not going to run the horse. That would be heartbreaking because we are going to a Gold Cup with a real chance. We want the sun to come out, the breeze to blow and we want good ground on the day.

“Hewick has taken us all over the world. We were in France, went to America and will go back, maybe go to Australia later in the year.

“For us to have a horse to win the King George was a big, big day, for me, my family and for all the staff in the yard. And also for Ireland. It gave the whole of Ireland a lift.

“I wouldn’t say that it has been life changing but it has been a big help. The Gold Cup though would be life changing and we will go for the Grand National after that. We just have to keep our fingers crossed. To win a Gold Cup which we all grow up dreaming about would be utterly amazing for a small yard like me.”

Hanlon is going up against the big boys once again in the shape of the powerhouse yards of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott from Irerland, as well as Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson in Britain. 

Mullins and Elliott in particular have dominated Cheltenham in previous years and that shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

“It is impossible to take on those super yards in Ireland,” Hanlon added. “We are working with handicap horses because we can’t get graded horses. We can’t afford to buy the graded horses. That is the big thing. Gordon has Gigginstown and three or four other very good customers.  Willie has them everywhere. I just hope one of them might come to me!”

BoyleSports this week announced it is teaming up with John ‘Shark’ Hanlon as his Official Stable Partner and will be closely following Hewick’s journey to Prestbury Park. If Hewick is successful in his bid for the Gold Cup, BoyleSports will donate €100,000 to the Irish Injured Jockeys (IIJ) and the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) in the UK.