Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John could start his 2019 campaign off over hurdles instead of fences with his patient trainer Jessica Harrington running out of time until the Cheltenham Festival.
Harrington says plans "are up in the air" for the superstar, that ideally would have gone for the Kinlock Brae Chase at Thurles racecourse on the 20th January but she still thinks it is too soon for him.
(Credit Racing Post) The trainer said:I’m not sure we’ll have him ready for the Kinloch Brae. He's in absolutely fine form but the long dry spell we had meant that we've been a bit behind schedule with him."
The four time Grade 1 winner over fences has not been the same horse since coming back from his championship winning season when landing three gold cups with the others coming at Punchestown and Thurles.
He has not been seen for over a year now when finishing a down the field seventh behind the Noel Meade trained Road To Respect at Leopardstown in the 2017 Christmas Chase.
The reason he has been out so long and consequently made him miss a chance to defend his Cheltenham Gold Cup title, was his hairline fracture to his pelvis.
Harrington added: "We’ll see how things go over the next couple of weeks and if we decide not to go to Thurles there are a number of other possibilities to consider, including the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle over three miles on Thyestes day at Gowran Park towards the end of this month.
"He will also have a few entries at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival [February 2-3].
"Whether he reappears over hurdles or fences, the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup is still very much the plan once all goes well with him."
The Grade 1John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase was the last contest that the racing world saw Sizing John win. Can he ever get back to being as good as he was in that?