Europe's far from his final frontier

Tied Cottage offers Sizing chance to put himself in frame for Cheltenham glory

Niall Cronin

WHEN it comes to consistency at the highest level in recent years you need to look no further than Sizing Europe.

Henry de Bromhead's stable star has been a fantastic horse for connections throughout his career but at 11 years of age he still isn't finished at the top level.

Reflecting on an illustrious career that has seen him enjoy success at the Cheltenham Festival on two occasions, his form reads as 2511351F11025411111322312121121111. Excuse all the numbers but that is impressive.


Since winning the Champion Chase in 2011, Sizing Europe has run 10 times, winning eight and finishing second twice, one of those was controversially to Finian's Rainbow in last year's Champion Chase.

This weekend he is due to grace Punchestown where he is engaged in the Tied Cottage Chase, a race which he won last year by 15 lengths, and with sub-standard opposition in the Grade Two he should be able to claim a 19th career win.

As a 1/3 favourite in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase over Christmas, Sizing Europe was a shade more workmanlike than would have been expected but defeat was never likely and if you revert back to his win prior to that -- at Clonmel in November -- he was probably never as impressive.

Sizing Europe was given three Cheltenham options by his connections, the Champion Chase, which still appears his best option, the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup.

A lack of another run over a staying distance would appear to have knocked the Gold Cup dream on the head for another year and the Champion Chase, despite the presence of Sprinter Sacre in the field, has to be his preferred option now.


Sunday's ground conditions are likely to be the worst that Sizing Europe has encountered in his career and although that is unlikely to be enough to derail him from another win, it is further evidence of how frustrating it is for trainers who are keen to get a vital last run into horses prior to Cheltenham.

With very little let-up in the conditions, there will surely come a time when we will be looking at Cheltenham's ground being softer than is usual for the Festival and that would suit a horse like Sizing Europe, but whether it will be enough to stop Sprinter Sacre or not remains to be seen.

Nevertheless, Sizing Europe has been a credit to connections and although currently just short of a career-best rating of 177, he is still far from finished being a major player in major races this season.

It is a pity that Sunday's Tied Cottage won't provide a more strenuous test for Sizing Europe, although De Bromhead and co probably wouldn't agree with that, but he can only beat what is in front of him and this should be a straightforward task that doesn't see him come off the bridle.

There is no doubt that Sizing Europe is the best horse on show this weekend.

Thankfully it looks like the weather won't interfere with that and hopefully his days of claiming Grade One honours are not behind him.