Johnny Burke is eagerly looking forward to his first scheduled ride on Sizing Europe in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park on October 4th.
Although now 12, the gelding is the jewel in the crown of Burke's new job, as first rider to owners Alan and Ann Potts.
The teenaged rising star of Irish jumping is still a conditional, but has taken over one of the most important retainers from Andrew Lynch.
The Grade Two event is Sizing Europe’s traditional pipe- opener, and he has won it for the last three years.
Not ready to write off Nearly written-off as being too old, Henry de Bromhead’s veteran brought the house down by winning the Punchestown Champion Chase last April, and it was decided he would stay in training.
“I’ve been pinching myself. I’ve had a great start and I’m really looking forward to the winter,” Burke told At the Races.
“Hopefully in two weeks I’ll be riding Sizing Europe. I’ve not sat on him yet, but I’ve been putting in plenty of work at home watching his runs.
“You’ve grown up watching Sizing Europe running in all these big races, and now I’m riding him and all these young horses in the graded races.
“Being a young lad growing up, that’s where you want to be,” Burke said. “I’m really looking forward to it – it’s Sizing Europe’s race and hopefully he’ll collect it again.”
Before the new National Hunt season begins in earnest, Nigel Twiston-Davies intends to run two of his brightest prospects at Perth on Thursday. Betfair Hurdle winner Splash of Ginge and Aintree bumper winner Ballybolley are set to make the long journey.
Splash of Ginge made great strides over timber last year, and proved his 33-1 success at Newbury was no fluke when finishing second to Lac Fontana in a Grade One at the Grand National meeting.
It was at the same fixture that Ballybolley announced his arrival as a horse with a future when he wore down Relic Rock to maintain his unbeaten record in bumpers.
Making a Splash Splash of Ginge is set to make his debut over fences in the Timothy Hardie Jewellers Novices’ Chase (for The Centenary Silver Plate), which Twiston- Davies has won before.
“Hopefully Splash of Ginge will be running, as long as the ground is okay,” said Twiston- Davies. “He was a wonderful horse last season and just kept on progressing.