Europe all set for Gowran return
Sizing Europe is the star name among a fascinating field of eight runners in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park on Saturday.
Henry de Bromhead's 11-year-old has claimed the last two renewals of the two-and-a-half mile contest and enjoyed another excellent campaign last season, winning his first four starts before chasing home Sprinter Sacre at Cheltenham and Punchestown.
Sizing Europe will have to be on his game if he is to make a winning return, however, with Quito De La Roque, Rubi Light, Baily Green and Roi Du Mee all rated over 150.
De Bromhead said: "He seems in good form, I'm happy with him.
"It's a good race and the ground is yielding, so it should be nice ground.
"I never expect anything, we'll just see what happens.
"We're just taking it one race at a time."
Regular rider Andrew Lynch will be in the saddle once again and is looking forward to renewing his association with the horse that has done most to elevate his career.
"I rode him in work last week and he felt in great form. I'm hoping for another good year for him," he told At The Races.
"Hopefully everything will go well on Saturday. Last year he won his first four races and he was just unlucky to come up against Sprinter Sacre in his other two.
"If he picks up a sequence of wins again this season I'd be very happy.
"It's two and a half miles on Saturday but he's won it twice before and I'm hoping for a good run."
Robbie Hennessy feels Rubi Light is heading into the new campaign in excellent form.
The eight-year-old fell at the final fence when he looked set to beat Sizing Europe in this race two years ago, with the County Meath trainer hoping his charge can settle the score this weekend.
He said: "Sizing Europe is the one we all have to beat, but revenge is sweet, so we'll see what happens.
"Touch-wood, we've had a great run with our horse. His work and his schooling have all gone well and thankfully the rain has come as we needed every drop.
"We have our horse fairly straight. He went to a schooling race in Dundalk a couple of weeks ago and Barry Geraghty schooled him over five fences at the Curragh the other day and was thrilled with him.
"For once everything has gone right, so hopefully they keep going that way."
Last season's Arkle runner-up Baily Green steps up to two and a half miles on his first start outside novice company.
Trainer Mouse Morris said: "It's a hot race and it's first run for a while, so I'm sure he'll benefit from it.
"We'll find out a bit more tomorrow but I think he'll probably want a trip this year.
"Fingers crossed he runs well and we'll go from there."
Quito De La Roque had an up-and-down campaign last season, but trainer Colm Murphy feels his nine-year-old is in good shape ahead of his return.
Murphy said: "He seems good, I'm very happy with him at home.
"The trip is probably a bit on the sharp side for him, but it will be nice to get him started and we know he'll come on for the run."
The Gordon Elliott-trained Roi Du Mee won six times last season and is another major contender on his comeback.
The field is completed by Laganbank, Tribes And Banner and Sumkindasuprstar.