Hewick heading for Gold Cup after bolting up in New Jersey

American Grand National winner Hewick could head straight for the Gold Cup after not getting "out of second gear" at Far Hills on Saturday.

The seven-year-old coped well with the drop back to two miles five furlongs in New Jersey and he could now go straight for Cheltenham.

The Shark Hanlon-trained raider made amends for a final-fence blunder in the Kerry National when bolting up by 11 and a half lengths in the States to prompt wild celebrations.

It was the third big chasing pot the bargain €850 buy has won this year following success in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and the Galway Chase in July. And the County Carlow handler believes he is faster than people give him credit for.

Hanlon told the Racing Post: "I loved the first thing Jordan Gainford said to me after the race. He came up to me and said, 'Shark, the horse didn't come out of second gear'.

"He's not a slow horse. It's just for seven or eight strides in every race, no matter what trip it's over, he comes off the bridle, but he always finds plenty.

"We're going for gold now, It's all systems go for the Gold Cup. We have to have a crack now. I don't want to burn him out, so I'm going to back off him completely.

"He doesn't take a lot of training; it won't take a lot to get him fit for Cheltenham. I might run him over hurdles or something in February, but I might not. I'd have no problem going straight to the Gold Cup."

Gainford kicked for home after the second-last and coasted to victory beating Noah And The Ark .

"He bolted in," added Hanlon. "He's a right little horse, he's a little dinga. It was great for Irish racing, great for English racing, it was good for everything. Everything just went to plan, and I was amazed by the way he jumped - they are different fences to anywhere else."

It cost about €20,000 to get Hewick to the US and back, but it was money well spent with winner's prize set at around €130,000.

Hewick is set to take on Galopin Des Champs and defending champion A Plus Tard in the Gold Cup on March 17 - St Patrick's Day.

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