Sizing Europe tested by Light challenge
Leopardstown Festival: Sizing Europe registered his third victory of the campaign with a determined performance in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown.
Henry de Bromhead’s stable star was a 1-3 favourite to add to his Grade One tally and was disputing the lead with Rubi Light throughout the two-mile-one-furlong test.
Despite travelling noticeably better than his closest rival heading down the back straight, some fine leaps from Rubi Light kept him in contention. Sizing Europe and Andrew Lynch looked set to ease clear from the home turn, but it was hard work in the testing conditions and Rubi Light galloped on tenaciously to make the market leader pull out all the stops.
British raider Edgardo Sol was third.
“That was great, we’re very lucky to have him, he makes training a lot easier," De Bromhead said. "You wouldn’t really want him to be taking a hold like he did there over two miles (but) he loves this game, he just loves it. I’m very relieved as when you are 1-3 (favourite), second is disappointing.
“It’s great to win that race now and we’ll work on from there to Cheltenham. I don’t know what we are going to do yet. He could possibly be entered in the three big chases (Gold Cup, Queen Mother Champion Chase and Ryanair) at Cheltenham.
“For me he’s looking far more like a stayer this year so we’ll see, it’s all a long way away yet. We’ll try to get him there first.”
Lynch added: “Sizing Europe has been a very good horse to me. He was very fresh in the race early on and was running a bit keen. Rubi Light was jumping great alongside us and both of them are in fact very good horses to jump. He started to idle a bit out in front on his own but at least he won. He felt the ground very dead, he’s way better on good ground but he got away with it today. He stays well, he did it well.”
Jezki maintained his unbeaten record over hurdles with a hugely impressive performance in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle.
Jessica Harrington’s four-year-old was sent off the 11-8 favourite on the strength of his win in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse and was always travelling powerfully in the hands of Robbie Power.
He cruised to the lead halfway up the home straight, safely negotiated the final flight and then powered clear on the run-in to beat main market rival Waaheb by six lengths.
Supporters of odds-on favourite Mumbo Jumbo were made to sweat before he eventually got on top close home to win the Paddy Power Maiden Hurdle.
The Margaret Mullins-trained dual bumper winner was a 4-6 favourite having been narrowly beaten on his hurdling bow at Listowel in September and was sent straight into the lead by the trainer’s son, Danny Mullins.
He led until the home turn, when he was passed by Celtic Cailin, but Mullins appeared happy to bide his time.
It almost backfired at the final flight as the smooth-travelling Mumbo Jumbo got in tight, which handed his rival the initiative. But Mumbo Jumbo picked up for pressure on the run-in and was good value for his length-and-a-half victory.
The winning trainer said: “He was just beaten in Listowel and Barry (Connell, owner) wanted to come back here with him. He is a nice horse and it has worked out well. We will find a winners-of-one race for him now.”The mother and son combination went on to complete a double as 12-1 shot Cairdin made every yard of the running in the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle.
Returning to the smaller obstacles following a stint over fences, the six-year-old was fitted with blinkers for the first time and galloped along merrily at the head of affairs.
The challengers were queuing up to have a pop at him rounding the home turn, but Cairdin then kicked clear and skipped over the final flight to seal a four-and-a-quarter-length verdict over Forty Foot Tom.
Margaret Mullins said: “I’m delighted with the horse. We put the blinkers on him today as he just looks around a bit and it’s great that it came right for him. It’s great for Danny too, it’s great to have your own doing it! I don’t give him instructions, I just leave it to him.”
Gordon Elliott’s Flaxen Flare made a winning start to his jumping career with a smart display in the Paddy Power On Your Mobile 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle.
Last seen winning on the Flat at Nottingham in October, when trained by Andrew Balding, the three-year-old was an 11-1 shot for what looked a warm race on paper.
Hot favourite Diplomat moved smoothly rounding the home turn, but fluffed his lines at the final flight and Flaxen Flare quickened up best on the flat.
Davy Condon’s mount came home two and a quarter lengths ahead of outsider Ibsen, with Diplomat well held.
Call Me Bubbles was the disappointment of the race.
“We always thought he was nice and he beat Diplomat in a schooling race at Fairyhouse," Elliott said. "It’s hard to really fancy one in these three-year-old hurdle races as they can be a bit rough and ready. We have been quite lucky with three-year-old hurdlers. He is probably not as fast as Shadow Catcher but he might keep going a bit better.”