Hewick: won the American Grand National under Jordan Gainford

‘We had mighty craic’ – Shark parties after Hewick’s American Grand National win | Horse Racing News

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

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Hewick: won the American Grand National under Jordan Gainford

Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)

Shark Hanlon said he awoke with a sore head to almost 700 text messages on Sunday morning after celebrating Hewick’s American Grand National victory into the early hours, and now he has his eyes on an even bigger prize – the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Hewick is the gift that keeps on giving as the €850 purchase added the $250,000 event over hurdles at Far Hills to his Galway Plate and bet365 Gold Cup wins from earlier this year.

Victory was never in doubt as Jordan Gainford kicked for home after the second-last and coasted to victory by 11 and a half lengths from home contender Noah And The Ark. 

It cost about €20,000 to get Hewick there and back, but it was money well spent as connections brought the winner’s prize of around €130,000 back home. 

“This horse is a legend and is starting to get a huge following,” said a hoarse Hanlon from his New Jersey hotel. 

“There were Irish people from all over America who came to Far Hills just to watch Hewick. I met people originally from Cork and Donegal and all over Ireland, and they told me they’d driven three or four hours just to see Hewick.

“They’d seen the coverage the horse had got in the lead-up to the race and wanted to be there. We had some party with everyone! 

“We had two cars parked right on the winning line, one was packed with food and the other with drink. Gordon [Elliott] and his crew were there too and we had mighty craic.

“It’s just unbelievable. I still can’t quite believe it. We got to bed around 5am and I woke up and looked at my phone. I had over 400 WhatsApp messages and nearly another 300 text messages.

“I haven’t even got through a quarter of them yet. So many people have fallen in love with this horse. It’s been some journey in the last year with him.”


That journey began exactly 12 months ago when he took the Durham National at Sedgefield. He added the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and Galway Plate, and would more than likely have a Kerry National at Listowel on his CV too had he not crashed out at the last when in front. 

Hanlon thinks Hewick is a lot faster than people give him credit for. He coped well with the drop to two miles five furlongs at Far Hills and the trainer will now gear him up for a crack at jump racing’s ultimate prize.

Hewick is set to clash with Galopin Des Champs and defending champion A Plus Tard in the Gold Cup on March 17 next year – St Patrick’s Day. We might not see him before then.

Hanlon said: “I loved the first thing Jordan said to me after the race. He came up to me and said, ‘Shark, the horse didn’t come out of second gear’.

“He’s not a slow horse. It’s just for seven or eight strides in every race, no matter what trip it’s over, he comes off the bridle, but he always finds plenty. 

“We’re going for gold now, It’s all systems go for the Gold Cup. We have to have a crack now. I don’t want to burn him out, so I’m going to back off him completely.

“He doesn’t take a lot of training; it won’t take a lot to get him fit for Cheltenham. I might run him over hurdles or something in February, but I might not. I’d have no problem going straight to the Gold Cup.”

Hanlon made a touching tribute to Jack de Bromhead on American TV, the teenager who tragically lost his life in a freak pony racing accident. 

“Jack is in our hearts the whole time,” said Hanlon. “After the race myself and my young lad Paddy stood in the middle of the track and shed a few tears together for Jack. We’ll never forget him.”

Nico de Boinville, who won the American Grand National on Brain Power in 2019, had to pull up Pistol Whipped this time, while Ben Pauling’s Grand Annual winner Global Citizen was last of the seven finishers under Kielan Woods.

Elsewhere on the Far Hills card, Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell teamed up for a double with The Insider and Ted Hastings, both justifying favouritism, while Sean Flanagan won the Appleton Hurdle on the ex-Alan King-trained Redicean, who is now in the care of Leslie Young.

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