Options remain open for Sizing Europe
Racing:Henry de Bromhead is keeping the Cheltenham options open for Sizing Europe after his stable star repeated last year’s success in the Boylesports.com Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown.De Bromhead does not want to commit the Arkle and Queen Mother Champion Chase winner to any specific race at next month’s Festival just yet.
However, the Co Waterford trainer did say that the Betfred Gold Cup was the least likely of Sizing Europe’s three engagements, which would leave the choice between the Champion and Ryanair Chase.
The classy 11-year-old has now won all his four starts this winter after disposing of the gallant Foildubh. Andrew Lynch made all the running on the 1 to 8 shot and only Foildubh could keep tabs on him, flattering briefly but being put in his place from the second-last fence and going down by 10 lengths.
De Bromhead said: “It hasn’t really made any difference to where we’ll go at Cheltenham. I’d say the Gold Cup is the outsider of the three options and we’ll just see how everything unfolds.
“When you see Sprinter Sacre there last weekend he was very impressive. Of course that (potential opposition) is going to play a part, so we’ll just have to weigh it all up and see which way we go.
“His most impressive win this year was probably the two-mile-four Clonmel Oil Chase.”
Stan James eased Sizing Europe to 7 to 1 from 6 to 1 for the Queen Mother and left the 11-year-old unchanged at 10 to 1 for the Ryanair.
Ruby Walsh enjoyed the run of the race as he brought home Mozoltov (9 to 4) a good winner of the Racing UK Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle.
The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old was strongly pressed by Don Cossack in the straight but kept the 6 to 5 favourite at bay by a length.
“I’d imagine we’re looking at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with him and he can only be better on better ground. Ruby said he wasn’t at home on that ground today,” said Mullins.
The well-backed Colbert Station led on the run-in to land the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier) in the hands of Tony McCoy.
The 11 to 10 favourite, running off a much lower mark than his chase rating, had to work fairly hard to overpower Clashnabrook by two lengths.
Last seen winning the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown, the Ted Walsh trained nine-year-old holds an entry in the John Smith’s Grand National.
“I wouldn’t say he was mad about the ground but he jumps and stays. If he is going to run at Liverpool we’ll have to keep him ticking over and today served its purpose,” said Walsh.
“We’ll be looking at races like the Bobbyjo Chase, the Racing Plus Chase and the Red Mills Chase for him next but his only minus is his inexperience and he’s only had five runs over fences.”
Punters had their fingers burnt when Born In Fire sprang a 25 to 1 surprise in the Anna Gannon 80th Birthday Maiden Hurdle.
Davy Russell made a decisive move on the Gigginstown House-owned five-year old when he stole a few lengths on the field as they turned into the straight.
The Mouse Morris-trained gelding then kept on stoutly to hold Byerley Babe by a length.
“Obviously there was something wrong when he ran deplorably badly at Naas, but we never found anything to explain it,” said Morris.
Russell completed a double on Lastoftheleaders (12 to 1) in the Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase, named after trainer Arthur Moore’s late father.
The 10-year-old galloped on strongly to beat Alderwood by two and a quarter lengths in a competitive contest. The winning trainer was in France but his son JD Moore said: “We’re delighted to win this race and it’s a lovely pot to win.”
Arabella Boy (9 to 2) ground out victory in the Glenfarclas PP Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase.
Nina Carberry sent the eight-year-old into the lead some way out and he found extra to beat Big Shu by a length.
“Arabella Boy travelled well all the way and he’ll go for the Cross Country Chase, on the Tuesday, at Cheltenham next,” said Bolger, who was winning the race, named in honour of his father-in-law, for the fourth time in the last six runnings.
Spot The Boss (8 to 1) gamely outstayed the opposition in the Michael Fitzpatrick Memorial Grand National Trial Handicap Chase for trainer Oliver McKiernan and jockey Robbie Colgan.
Peter Fahey’s Railway Tommy (10 to 1), ridden by 7lb claimer Shane Butler, floored the Mullins-trained 4 to 6 shot Rough Justice in the ITM Promoting Irish Bloodstock (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.