The 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner is back and ready to set his sights on the race again in 2018. Before Sizing John gets there, though, he has the potential to win a £1 million bonus for winning a total of three races, starting with the Betfair Chase. For a long time, this race has been pencilled in as his seasonal opener, and it is the first leg in his pursuit of the jackpot.
Should he win the Betfair Chase then a date on Boxing Day with the King George would be next on the agenda, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup rounding off the Triple Crown. The initiative brought in to offer the £1 million bonus is working its magic this season, because in other circumstances it is highly unlikely we would have seen Sizing John run in the UK before the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Thanks to the bonus, racing fans up and down the country will get the chance to see a Gold Cup winner up close at personal at Haydock first, then hopefully at Kempton for the King George.
After winning the Gold Cup as a seven-year-old, Sizing John certainly has time on his side; he is only just entering the peak of his racing career. However, should he make the festival and head for the Gold Cup again, then he can expect to face a much tougher field than last time around.
The Oddschecker Gold Cup preview looks at the potential field and after taking a look, you will see it is a list of high-quality horses and whoever can win the race will be a very deserving champion. Thistlecrack, Might Bite, Yorkhill and Our Duke are all potentially Gold Cup winners; none of those ran in the race last season and by winning it this season, they wouldn't really be causing a shock. Add those names to the horses from last season and we could potentially have one of the deepest and best Gold Cup fields of all time.
Should that be the case then Sizing John is going to have to turn up in the form of his life and certainly in better form than we saw last season. There is the chance that could happen though, because as has previously been mentioned, he is just coming into his racing peak as a national hunt horse aged seven, and there could be more to come from him.
The preparation he is having for the Gold Cup is very different this season to that he had last season. His starting date will be a full month earlier than it was last season due to targeting the Betfair Chase and that also means he will be running outside of Ireland on at least two occasions before the Gold Cup. He ran three times before the Gold Cup last season and that is something that will probably stay the same, with the Betfair Chase and King George being the first two of those runs. His final prep run will probably be in Ireland and the Irish Gold Cup, the race he won last year before winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, looks to be the ideal target once again.
The first run of the season is nearly upon us for Sizing John and it is a race that looks likely to cut up, and he is likely to be sent off a short price favourite for it. The Betfair Chase only has 11 entries so far and some of those will be taken out before we get to the race on November 25. That could make this seasonal reappearance a little easier for Sizing John, with just Bristol De Mai and Cue Card looking like realistic contenders for the race.
Not many horses win the Cheltenham Gold Cup back to back and it is going to take a huge performance from Sizing John for him to do it. On the plus side, he has age on his side, and will be campaigned for the race with all focus being put on turning up 100% right on the day of the Gold Cup. However, the opposition looks to be much tougher than he faced in the 2017 race so far, and if the field remains similar to what we have now, this could go down as one of the greatest Gold Cups of all time.