Gold Cup winner Sizing John takes dramatic fall on comeback race

Sizing John’s comeback ended badly and dramatically when the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner of 2017 fell at the third-last flight at Punchestown on Tuesday. Some encouragement could have been taken from his effort to that point and he did not hit the hurdle itself but knuckled forward on to his knees a stride after landing.

The horse, who will become a 10-year-old at New Year, appeared to be uninjured as he galloped away after his tumble and he cleared the final two hurdles while riderless. Assuming no injuries reveal themselves in the next couple of days, Jessica Harrington will presumably seek another race for him in the next six weeks as a potential stepping stone back to Cheltenham in mid-March.

Harrington later confirmed by tweet that the horse appeared to be fine, adding that his rider had reported him “full of running” at the time of the fall. She added the hashtag “onwardsandupwards”.

Jessica Harrington

Sizing John seems fine after his unfortunate fall @punchestownrace Barry said he felt full of running.. #onwardsandupwards#sizingjohn

December 31, 2019

Sizing John dominated steeplechasing in the spring of 2017, when he became the first horse to win the Gold Cups at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown in a single season. But he sustained a pelvic injury at the end of that year, which, combined with subsequent setbacks, kept him on the sidelines for two years and three days.

On the face of it he had a stiff task in this hurdles race over an inadequate distance, with Barry Geraghty replacing his usual rider, Robbie Power, sidelined by concussion. But punters fancied him enough to send him off as the 4-1 third-favourite.

The race was taken over by Rachael Blackmore, riding Burrows Saint for only the second time. The Irish National winner was soon clear and was never reeled in, scoring by three lengths from Saglawy, Willie Mullins training the first four home. The commentator Jerry Hannon hailed Blackmore for having been “out on her own” during the Christmas period, when she won two Grade Ones and was second in two others.


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