De Bromhead to make late call on Sizing Europe’s Cheltenham prospects

Faugheen to swerve Gowran and head straight to Champion Hurdle

Henry de Bromhead said that Sizing Europe is in good form and is being trained towards Cheltenham. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Henry de Bromhead said that Sizing Europe is in good form and is being trained towards Cheltenham. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

Sizing Europe could yet extend his remarkable Cheltenham record even further with trainer Henry De Bromhead planning to make a late call on whether or not to send the veteran star to next month’s festival.

De Bromhead already has two contenders for the Queen Mother Champion Chase in Special Tiara and Moscow Mannon but hasn’t ruled out letting their illustrious 13-year-old stable companion make a fifth attempt at the two-mile title.

Sizing Europe won the Champion Chase in 2011 – a year after landing the Arkle – and twice finished runner up to Finians Rainbow (2012) and Sprinter Sacre (2013) before an honourable fourth behind Sire De Grugy last year.

His festival record however stretches back to 2008 when he injured himself as an unplaced favourite for the Champion Hurdle, for which he was a late scratch in 2009. He also won at Cheltenham in the 2007 Greatwood Hurdle.

The horse hasn’t been seen in action since November when behind Champagne Fever at Clonmel but De Bromhead reported: “He’s in good form and is being trained towards Cheltenham. But we’ll have to see how things unfold. I would imagine we won’t decide about him travelling until very late.

He added: “The plan is to run Special Tiara and Moscow Mannon. Special Tiara would like quick ground. Moscow Mannon goes on anything but his best run was probably when getting chinned by Gods Own at Punchestown when it was good festival watered ground.”

De Bromhead’s other festival hopefuls are likely to include Grade One winner Sizing John in the Supreme Novices Hurdle while Smashing will renew rivalry with Un De Sceaux who beat him at Fairyhouse in December in the Arkle.

“Home Farm is a possible for the Gold Cup. We were pleased with his Hennessy run and he will come on a lot for it,” said De Bromhead who nominated Bishops Road as a possible contender for a festival handicap. The latter is also entered for Sunday’s Grade Two Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan, part of a weekend of late Cheltenham trial events which begins at Gowran on Saturday.

Champagne Fever is entered for Ascot’s Grade One and the Grade Two Red Mills Chase this Saturday but Willie Mullins has opted to avoid Gowran’s Grade Two Trial Hurdle and go straight to the Champion Hurdle with Faugheen.

Instead Edward O’Grady’s Champion Hurdle outsider Kitten Rock is joined among eight entries by Mullins’s Grade One Punchestown winner Abbyssial, a horse that also figures among 15 entries for Sunday’s Boyne Hurdle at Navan.

Enda Bolger has given his star novice Gilgamboa two entries at Navan, in the two-mile Flyingbolt Novice Chase and the three-mile Ten Up.

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