Sizing Europe gives King George V1 a miss
RACING:Henry de Bromhead has confirmed Sizing Europe will not run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day.
The 10-year-old has looked as good as ever in winning his two starts this season and connections remain keen to test the multiple Grade One winner over three miles on a sound surface.
However, with conditions likely to be testing at Kempton next week, Sizing Europe is set to instead head to Leopardstown for either the two-mile-one-furlong Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase or the Lexus Chase over three miles.
With rain continuing to fall over most of Britain and Ireland, it would seem the shorter race is his most likely target.
De Bromhead said: “We said at the start of the season we’d love to try him over three miles on better ground, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get that at the moment.
“He has the two options at Leopardstown and we’ll leave him in both races , but the way the weather is going at the moment, I would imagine he’ll probably run in the two-mile race.”
Another Irish-trained horse ruled out of the St Stephen’s Day feature is First Lieutenant. Mouse Morris scratched his Hennessy Gold Cup third from the Kempton Grade One on Wednesday and he will instead head for the Lexus on December 28th.
Morris plans to saddle China Rock in the same race, his first appearance since claiming the Punchestown Gold Cup in the spring.
Fifteen horses remain in the King George following the latest confirmation stage. They are headed by the Nicky Henderson-trained Long Run. Stable companion Riverside Theatre has also stood his ground, while Henderson also has the 2012 Champion Chase victor Finian’s Rainbow. Philip Hobbs is represented by last season’s third Captain Chris, Menorah and Wishfull Thinking.
David Pipe has supplemented Rehearsal Chase winner Junior and has left in Grands Crus.
Colin Tizzard has a leading contender in Cue Card, while David Bridgwater’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster and Martin Keighley’s Champion Court also feature.
Kauto Stone is Paul Nicholls’ only entry after the defections of the injured Al Ferof and the ill-fated Cristal Bonus.
Sir Des Champs, from Willie Mullins’ stable, is the only Irish-trained possible.
Hurricane in mix Mullins has three entries
Hurricane Fly is one of eight remaining entries for the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 29th. The 2011 Champion Hurdle hero lost his Cheltenham crown when beaten into third at Prestbury Park in March, but did sign off the season with victory at Punchestown and made a winning return at the same track in November’s Morgiana Hurdle.
Willie Mullins also has Thousand Stars and Zaidpour in the mix for the two-mile Grade One. John Quinn’s hugely impressive Fighting Fifth hero Countrywide Flame is the sole British-trained contender, while Captain Cee Bee, Monksland, Tilabay and top-class mare Unaccompanied complete the field.