Beaten Sizing lined up for tilt at Kauto
Henry De Bromhead remained upbeat despite Sizing Europe's defeat at the hands of China Rock at Punchestown yesterday.
Sizing Europe enjoyed a fantastic first season over fences, winning twice in Grade One company, including a brilliant display in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.
He was stepped up to the best part of three miles for this seasonal reappearance and travelled kindly for much of the contest under Andrew Lynch. The Mouse Morris-trained China Rock had the benefit of race fitness, though, and made plenty of the running under Ruby Walsh, pulling clear from Sizing Europe before the turn for home to score by seven lengths.
De Bromhead is keen to have another crack at staying distances with his stable star, with a clash with Kauto Star in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal next month a mouth-watering possibility.
"I thought he ran very well, and I thought Ruby and Mouse had their tactics spot-on as they were always going to test us for the trip," the Waterford handler said.
"His jumping was a little bit rusty but that will improve as we go on and I felt he got the trip, so I'm happy.
"He had a big blow after the fourth-last and he'll improve a lot for that.
"I need to speak to Alan and Ann (Potts, owners) and Andrew, but I wouldn't be opposed to it (running over three miles). I thought he stayed on again after the second-last.
"We'd like to know whether we're going two miles or three miles sooner rather than later, so maybe we'll have a look at the Down Royal race."
Morris said of the winner: "That was great, I don't think we'll be going for any more handicaps with him.
"The Charlie Hall and the Nicholson would be options for him now, we'll see how he comes on from it. His jumping was very good."
It was not all bad news for De Bromhead and Lynch as their exciting prospect Loosen My Load earlier maintained his unbeaten record over fences in the Buck House Novice Chase.
Sent off at prohibitive odds of 1/4, the six-year-old was left in front a long way from home as early pacesetter Strongpoint departed.
Darceys Dancer kept with him all the way up the home straight and briefly threatened to make a race of it, but Lynch always appeared confident on the winner and the pair passed the post with two and a half lengths in hand.
De Bromhead said: "That was great and I'm delighted with him.
"He jumped great and Andrew said he'll improve again as he took a little blow turning in.
"He'll go for the two-miler in Cheltenham in November or come back here on the same day.
"He'd be a horse that you'd follow good ground with so you'd imagine you'd get that at Cheltenham."
Luska Lad rewarded odds-on backers with a comfortable comeback victory in the Ryan's Cleaning Events Specialists Hurdle.
John 'Shark' Hanlon's charge was never far off the pace on his first start since April and took up the running before the turn for home under Andrew McNamara.
The result was in little doubt thereafter as Luska Lad (4/6 favourite) safely negotiated the final flight and only had to be nudged out in the final strides to record his 10th career victory.
Hanlon said: "That was great -- a good performance from him. Andrew said he handles that ground but that he'd be better on softer.
"He was entitled to win like that on the ratings. He'll go to Down Royal now in three weeks' time and to Fairyhouse for the Hatton's Grace Hurdle after that.
"The ground out there today was beautiful and well done to all involved.
"We had him schooled over fences and I was afraid he'd jump too big but he didn't. Andrew gave him a very good ride."