The Grade 1 winning chaser Sizing Granite has been moved to Co Wexford trainer Colm Murphy by his owners, Ann and Alan Potts.
Formerly handled by Henry De Bromhead, Sizing Granite won the Maghull Novices Chase at Aintree in April and was last seen finishing fifth to Flemenstar at Leopardstown over Christmas.
The horse is a general 33-1 shot in ante-post betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Another Potts-owned horse transferred to Murphy from De Bromhead is Mick Thonic, runner-up in a handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day.
“Both Sizing Granite and Mick Thonic have been transferred to Colm Murphy by Ann and Alan,” said De Bromhead. “I’m delighted to be training the other horses here for them.”
The Potts colours are among the best known in National Hunt racing in Ireland and the owners have enjoyed a string of major victories with horses trained by De Bromhead, most notably the now retired Sizing Europe, winner of the Champion Chase and the Irish Champion Hurdle during a glittering career.
Last July, Shanahan's Turn landed the Galway Plate for the Potts-De Bromhead alliance under the owner's retained rider, Jonathan Burke. Among the Potts horses still with De Bromhead is the highly-rated novice Supasundae, a leading fancy for the Supreme Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Sizing Granite’s move is another boost for Murphy, whose career had been in the doldrums but whose fortunes have taken an upturn in recent weeks, most notably with Empire Of Dirt’s Leopardstown Chase success.
Gorey-based Murphy won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2006 with Brave Inca and also scored in 2009 when Big Zeb landed the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
His Grade 1 CV also includes top-flight successes with Quito De La Roque and Voler La Vedette.
Meanwhile De Bromhead’s principal hope for Champion Chase glory this year is Special Tiara, who is a possible starter in Sunday’s Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown.
“He will be entered and we’ll see. I’ll talk to the owner [Sally Rowley-Williams] but ground would be a factor in whether we run or not,” De Bromhead said.
Special Tiara hasn’t been seen in action since finishing an unlucky runner-up to Sire De Grugy in Sandown’s Tingle Creek Chase last month. He is a best-priced 14-1 for Cheltenham’s two-mile championship in March.
As expected the
favourite Djakadam tops 11 entries left in Saturday’s Betbright Trial Chase at Cheltenham. Willie Mullins’s charge will return to the scene of his second place finish to Coneygree in last season’s Gold Cup. His weekend opposition could yet include last year’s one-two in the race, Many Clouds and Smad Place.