Sizing John back on Sunday
Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John will return to action in Sunday's John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown, trainer Jessica Harrington has confirmed.
The seven-year-old had been pencilled in for a return to action last month in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, with Harrington having voiced her desire to bid for the JCR Jumps Triple Crown by winning that race, the King George at Kempton and a second Gold Cup in March, thus triggering a £1m payout.
Those plans were shelved when the ground at Haydock turned heavy and Sizing John was a late defection.
Harrington remains happy with that decision and she is content to allow her stable star drop back in trip for the John Durkan.
He hasn't run over the two and a half mile trip since scoring in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles in January, after which Sizing John established himself as a stayer of real quality, winning Gold Cups at Fairyhouse, Cheltenham and Punchestown.
Harrington remains content the right decision was made not to go to Haydock and she will wait until after Sunday's race before deciding on whether or not Sizing John will head for Kempton on Boxing Day.
"We're very happy with Sizing John and the John Durkan is the plan. We decided against sending him to the Betfair Chase and I think that was the right decision," she said.
"We're not looking beyond Sunday's race at this stage. We haven't taken him out of the King George but we won't be making any plans until we get the Punchestown race out of the way."
Sizing John is 7.00 to win the King George VI Chase at Kempton, while he trades at 4.50 to land a second Gold Cup crown in March.
Willie Mullins' Djakadam, fourth at Cheltenham in March but just a short head behind Sizing John in the Punchestown Gold Cup, is set to head the opposition at Punchestown on Sunday as he seeks a John Durkan hat-trick.
Meanwhile runway Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai is 4.50 to maintain his Triple Crown hopes for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies by winning the King George at Kempton on 26th December.
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