Sizing swerves Kempton raid
QUEEN Mother Champion Chase hero Sizing Europe, who put up a gallant display in the three-mile JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday, will not be going to Kempton for the King George at Christmas.
Connections had mulled the idea of running Henry de Bromhead's stable star in the Gold Cup last year before reverting back to two miles and having appeared to be the winner after jumping the last on Saturday, Sizing Europe was just outdone at the line by Quito De La Roque.
"He's come out of the race good," revealed Waterford-based de Bromhead. "He was tired for a couple of days but he's fine now."
Further distances haven't been ruled out after Saturday's game effort, however two-and-a-half miles could be the maximum for this season.
"I thought it was a phenomenal performance from him on Saturday. I was thrilled with how he ran and it was just a shame he couldn't win.
"We have a few options for him now, including the Tingle Creek over two miles at Sandown and the John Durkan Memorial Chase over two-and-a-half miles at Punchestown."
Gold Cup winner Long Run headed the 24 entries received yesterday for the King George on St Stephen's Day, which didn't include Sizing Europe, and Irish representation will come only in the shape of Paul Nolan's Noble Prince and Dessie Hughes' Roberto Goldback.
De Bromhead said: "We've not entered him (Sizing Europe) in the King George this year and I think we'll stick at two and two-and-a-half miles for the time being. But he's clearly not far away from getting three miles. I'd say he probably would stay on a bit of decent ground."
Meanwhile, just 24 hours after stating that he was "leaning towards Cheltenham", Paul Nolan ruled King George entrant Noble Prince out of Saturday's Paddy Power Gold Cup.
The Cheltenham Festival winner held an engagement there, but also a possible date against Big Zeb at Navan on Sunday in the Fortria Chase, which is now his likely destination.
Nolan cited the small field at Navan and the horses' high rating as the main reasons for not travelling to the Cotswolds this weekend so an intriguing clash with former Champion Chase winner Big Zeb now appears on the cards.
Following on from such a small Irish entry in the King George, there was no Irish entry made at all for the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on November 26, which could be headlined by former champion hurdler Binocular. The Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old heads the 12-strong field, which are all British-based.
At Bangor yesterday afternoon, the Donald McCain-trained Peddlers Cross put in a flawless display on his chasing debut to further enhance his place at the head of the market for next year's Arkle at Cheltenham.
The Champion Hurdle runner-up to Hurricane Fly this year was sent off the 1/8 favourite for the three-runner beginners' chase and spring-heeled fences on what was a very straightforward, but likeable performance in the hands of the deputising Timmy Murphy.
The winning trainer said: "You expect him to make one small mistake going round but I didn't see one. He's done everything we've asked him to do and done it really well."
McCain's stable star lost his unbeaten record when going down to Hurricane Fly.