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Grand National Weights to Rise as Hewick Connections Set Sights on Aintree Bowl

Assigned the heaviest burden of 11st 12lb for the Grand National at a rating of 169, Hewick's bypass of the Gold Cup has left Hanlon contemplating the prudence of aiming for the Grand National after a 109-day hiatus.

Grand National Weights to Rise as Hewick Connections Set Sights on Aintree Bowl
Grand National Weights to Rise as Hewick Connections Set Sights on Aintree Bowl

The upcoming Randox Grand National's weight allocations are expected to see a significant increase as Shark Hanlon indicates a likely withdrawal of his top contender, Hewick, from the iconic jump race, opting instead for a shot at the Aintree Bowl with the King George victor.

Last week, Hewick was absent from the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup due to unfavourable soft ground conditions. This was sad news given that Hewick was looking like such a promising Gold Cup prospect.

Gold Cup However, he was virtually present, engaging fans from his Fenniscourt stable through a widely viewed social media video, which has garnered attention from over five million viewers.

Assigned the heaviest burden of 11st 12lb for the Grand National at a rating of 169, Hewick's bypass of the Gold Cup has left Hanlon contemplating the prudence of aiming for the Grand National after a 109-day hiatus.

Hanlon's preference leans towards pursuing success in the Grade 1 Aintree Bowl, followed by a concluding high note at the Punchestown Gold Cup on native turf.

Expressing his thoughts to the Racing Post, Hanlon stated, "It's likely that Hewick will bypass the Grand National for the Bowl. The absence from the Gold Cup poses a considerable challenge to take on the Grand National's topweight. The Bowl presents a viable alternative, where Hewick stands a strong chance, especially considering the wear on horses from the Gold Cup. Shishkin appears as the formidable opponent, yet I'm optimistic about our competitive edge."

He continued, "Decisions remain fluid, pending a discussion with the owner. Current plans favor the Bowl at Aintree, proceeding to the Punchestown Gold Cup. A future attempt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup remains desirable, questioning the suitability of this season's Grand National. Should Hewick compete in next year's Gold Cup, a subsequent Grand National appearance could be considered, though it's likely to be off the cards for this season."

Regarding the choice to withdraw Hewick from the recent Gold Cup, Hanlon remarked, "Prioritizing the horse's well-being, we made a judicious decision. Hewick's aversion to soft terrain, contrasted with Galopin Des Champs' prowess in such conditions, validated our stance."

Hanlon also credited the ingenious social media portrayal of Hewick's Gold Cup 'participation' to his son, Sean, which remarkably attracted over 5.2 million views, a figure that continues to rise.

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