Sizing can justify star billing in Clonmel showpiece
Sizing Europe's presence at Clonmel this afternoon is a tremendous boost for the modest Tipperary venue.
Over the years, the track's showpiece Clonmel Oil Chase has been a stepping stone for rising stars that were destined for the top, with Imperial Call and War Of Attrition both excelling in the Grade Two en route to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory.
Beef Or Salmon famously began his chasing career in the race for Michael Hourigan 10 years ago, but the same handler's Dorans Pride was the last horse to tackle the race with its marquee billing already fully established, completing four-in-a-row in 2000.
The participation today, then, of Henry de Bromhead's former two-mile champion, one of the best and most consistent chasers in recent years, is a major feather in Clonmel's cap. Although approaching 11 years of age, Sizing Europe's ready victory at Gowran Park last month confirmed he remains a formidable force.
While the ground will be plenty testing, he should cope adequately over two and a half miles and there is no better option than Andrew Lynch's mount.
Tranquil Sea, which bids for a third successive win in the €45,000 contest for Edward O'Grady, has some appeal, but he, Magnanimity, Rathlin and Let Yourself Go are all inferior.
De Bromhead and Lynch could secure a brace with Fourth Class in the two-and-a-quarter-mile handicap chase.
Earlier, Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins should have a big say in the opening maiden hurdle with The Paparazzi Kid, though the smart Tarla is reluctantly passed over on her fencing debut in the Grade Three Mares' Chase.
Preferred in that is Charles Byrnes' Knockfierna, which ran out for a second time with a race at her mercy at Limerick lately. For all her quirks, the Davy Russell-ridden seven-year-old is immensely talented and has the experience to concede weight here.
The day's nap choice is Roadtoabbeyfeale in the three-mile handicap hurdle.