May 30, 2023

Hewick runs away from Grand National rivals

Hewick wins the Grand National (Photo courtsey Far Hills Race Twitter)

Irish invader Hewick lorded over the competition in Saturday’s $250,000 Grand National (G1) at Far Hills, New Jersey, registering a comfortable 11 1/2-length victory in America’s richest and most prestigious hurdle.

The 2-1 second choice in a field of nine, Hewick was perched and ready to pounce for much of the 2 5/8-mile journey under jockey Jordan Gainford. After getting over the third-to-last fence down the backside, Hewick surged to the lead and steadily built an insurmountable advantage.

After clearing the final hurdle in upper stretch, Hewick drew off to a decisive win for owner T.J. McDonald and trainer John “Shark” Hanlon. The final time was 5:11.60 over ground labeled yielding.

Finishing a clear second was Noah and the Ark, upset winner of last month’s Lonesome Glory H. (G1) at Aqueduct. Ask Paddington edged Belfast Banter for third, with Song for Someone, 6-5 favorite Snap Decision, and Global Citizen next under the wire. Pistol Whipped, who set the pace, was pulled up soon after conceding the lead, while 2020 champion jumper Moscato was an early faller.

The results of the Grand National scrambles the picture for division honors, particularly after Snap Decision’s dull performance. Winner earlier this season of the Iroquois (G1) and Jonathan Sheppard H. (G1), Snap Decision was beaten nine lengths by Noah and the Ark in the Lonesome Glory and retreated badly in the Grand National while racing in tandem with Hewick in the second flight for much of the race.

As his odds suggest, Hewick brought sufficient class over from Europe to be considered a viable Grand National threat. The seven-year-old gelding won the Gold Cup at Sandown in April and added the Galway Plate in Ireland in late July.

Bred in Ireland by William Quinn, Hewick is by Virtual and out of Ballyburn Rose, a daughter of Oscar.