13 February 2017

A terrific day’s racing at Leopardstown was lit up by a memorable renewal of the Irish Gold Cup and any one of five runners looked a possible winner as they jumped the final fence almost in unison. It was SIZING JOHN who held a slender lead as the field crossed the last and he responded well to Robbie Power’s urgings to score by three-quarters of a length from Empire Of Dirt (IRE).  

SIZING JOHN’S only passage through the sales ring came as a foal in November 2010 at Tattersalls Ireland in Fairyhouse when John Bleahen signed his ticket for €16,000. His earnings now weigh in at over €325,000. His level of consistency is remarkable: in his 14 races over jumps he has never finished out of the first three, winning six times with two of those at the highest level. He has been unfortunate to have raced so often against the brilliant Douvan, finishing second to him on five occasions. 

Trainer Jessica Harrington is keeping an open mind as to his next assignment, mulling between the Gold Cup at Cheltenham or the Ryanair Chase. “He wasn’t stopping at the end of three miles today so we might go the Gold Cup route. We don’t know if he will stay three and a quarter miles, but on better ground he might.” 

Earlier on at the Dublin track, MEGA FORTUNE advertised his credentials for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham when taking out the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle in good style by more than three lengths.

Softer ground than encountered previously, allied to the application of cheekpieces for the first time, were credited by trainer Gordon Elliott with this career-best from MEGA FORTUNE. Similar conditions would surely give him a big chance in the Triumph next month.

MEGA FORTUNE is by the Beeches Stud’s stallion Soldier Of Fortune (IRE), an Irish Derby and Coronation Cup winner in his prime. He cost Andy Oliver €19,000 to acquire at the Goffs Orby Sale in 2014 and he won once on the Flat by a wide margin on heavy ground at Sligo, achieving a rating of 80 in that sphere before switching stables.      

Soldier Of Fortune (IRE) is making a good impression with his jumps stock these days and the sire provided another black-type winner when SLOWMOTION obliged by a comfortable four-length margin in the Listed Opera Hat Chase at Naas on Saturday. Twice a winner and twice a runner-up already this season, this five-year-old mare is going from strength to strength and appears to have many more good days in front of her.  


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