horses racing

Kempton winner set for Aintree Bowl at Grand National meeting

Hewick added himself to the roll of honour at Kempton Park on Boxing Day by winning the South West London showpiece event, the King George VI Chase.

His connections are hoping for more major glory before the season is out at the Grand National at Aintree.

The Irish chaser finished ahead of the defending champion Bravemansgame, two-time Ryanair Chaser Allaho, and a host of other leading 3m chasers at Kempton, springing him up the ratings in his division.

Grade One contest chosen over Grand National

Hewick has an entry in this season’s Grand National, however, John Hanlon’s runner is more likely to run his horse in the Aintree Bowl at the meeting.

Last year’s winner Corach Rambler is the 9/2 favourite in the Grand National betting odds, and without Hewick in the field, his task has been made easier.

The defending champion has been one of the leading Grand National tips for the world’s most famous steeplechase ever since he prevailed at Aintree last April.

Hewick’s trainer John Hanlon is opting against taking on the marathon specialist and instead bidding for more Grade One glory in the day two contest at the meeting.

Hewick will likely take on some of the horses he beat at Kempton when he lines up at Aintree, including Bravemansgame and Shishkin.

The Irish horse will then tackle the Punchestown Gold Cup at the Punchestown Festival on what will be his final start of the campaign.

Ground went again for Hewick at Cheltenham 

The Cheltenham Gold Cup was set to be the primary target for Hewick following his King George VI Chase triumph.

He would have been bidding to become the first horse since Long Run in 2011 to complete the double, but Hanlon pulled his horse out of the Cheltenham Festival feature due to unsuitable ground.

Hanlon’s tough decision at Cheltenham will mean Hewick will be much fresher for his two spring assignments.

He has not raced since December, so he has been afforded a sustained break from the track. 

Connections of Hewick will be hoping for dry weather in the final couple of months of the season, as their horse prefers fast ground.

They have also confirmed that they hope to send their horse to the Cheltenham Festival in 2025 for the Blue Riband event in the sport to take on the hat-trick-seeking Galopin Des Champs.

Return to Kempton in December

Horse racing fans in the South West of London are likely to see Hewick back at Kempton in December where he will be vying to defend his crown.

Clan Des Obeaux was the last horse to win the Boxing Day feature in back-to-back years when he did so in 2019.

Hewick will be the 16th horse in history to win the King George VI Chase more than once should he prevail again in December.

Challengers to the defending champion will likely come from some of this year’s leading novices, including Grey Dawning and Fact To File. 

The 2024 Grand National Meeting takes place from 11-13 April, with the Aintree Bowl scheduled for 14:55 on the 11th of April. 

Featured image credit Michimaya via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 licence

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