Exciting new chapter set to be written in Hewick fairytale

27 February 2024

The heartwarming tale of Irish racehorse Hewick is poised to reach its pinnacle at the prestigious Cheltenham Festival, in what would be a relief to many in the racing fraternity.

Amid growing apprehensions within racing circles regarding Monbeg Genius’s potential triumph at either Cheltenham or April’s Grand National, concerns have surfaced over the reception the horse’s owner, controversial Conservative peer Michelle Mone, would receive.

Despite Mone and husband Doug Barrowman having their assets frozen amid a probe into an alleged £200 million PPE fraud, Monbeg Genius remains a leading contender.

As the Racing Post’s Peter Scargill wrote,“The prospect of these two individuals lifting the National trophy should make racing cringe.”

Yet the betting odds hint at the possibility of at least one significant victory for Mone and Barrowman, positioning Monbeg Genius as the fifth favourite to clinch the Ultima Handicap and fifth favourite again for the Grand National.

Thankfully, amidst the shadows of scepticism, the mid-March Cheltenham Festival promises numerous uplifting narratives to counter the Monbeg Genius story, with none more captivating than the journey of trainer Shark Hanlon and his horse, Hewick.

While many elite horses exchange hands for hefty sums, Hanlon’s acquisition of Hewick for a mere €850 has proven to be an extraordinary bargain. Since then, their journey has been filled with triumphs, from the bet365 Gold Cup and Galway Plate to the American Grand National in 2022, culminating in a stunning upset at the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. This recent victory propelled their total earnings past the £500,000 mark.

Now, their sights are firmly set on the illustrious Cheltenham Gold Cup, boasting a prize purse exceeding £600,000, with the Grand National beckoning thereafter, and offering a further £500,000 to the victor.

Hewick is right amongst the Cheltenham Gold Cup favourites, and unlike many who downplay their chances, Hanlon unabashedly dreams of what could be the crowning achievement of his career.

“I think the (Grand National) trip will suit him. He’s going for the Gold Cup first and, please God, he comes out of the Gold Cup safe and if he does he’ll definitely head there (to Aintree),” remarked Hanlon.

“It’s a mighty day. It’s one of those days you look forward to all year. The National, the Gold Cup, and the King George at Kempton – they’re the three big days in England, so it’s great to have a runner there.”

With numerous twists and turns awaiting, the racing world eagerly awaits to see Hanlon and Hewick script another chapter of celebration in the weeks to come.

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