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Jump horses Sizing up for a great season

BREEDERS' Cup and Melbourne Cup in the next few days means there is still a bit of this dramatic Flat season to look forward to, but by God isn't it great to have the jump back in full flight (no pun intended).

A Dessie Hughes four-timer and Jessica Harrington treble on Monday are following on from the flying form of Gordon Elliott and Noel Meade, while Willie Mullins is simply Willie Mullins - and there is no stopping that steam train.

Saturday is the first Grade One of the winter months as we continue the search for our first Gold Cup horse since War Of Attrition in 2006, and the JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal looks an intriguing contest.

We will have the latest fall-out and the final field in tomorrow's Evening Herald, but the entries really whet the appetite.

The first two home from last year, Quito De La Roque and Sizing Europe (pictured), are both included.

Quito De La Roque, not seen since the Lexus at Christmas, and Sizing Europe, a winner already this season, give connections the tempter to step up in trip once again.

Joncol ran his heart out on his return at Punchestown just over a fortnight ago and he could well head north of the border, although, unlike most of the field, he would prefer to see a good drop of rain, while Magnanimity is one of four Gigginstown entries and he split Roi Du Mee (Gigginstown) and Joncol in that aforementioned Punchestown race.


First Lieutenant (Gigginstown) will still play a big role in the staying chasing ranks this season and he too would be an interesting participant, although it's unlikely more than two of the Gigginstown horses will cross swords.

As well as the JNWine.com Champion Chase, Down Royal also plays host to the Grade Two Ladbrokes Chase, which is opened up to novices and second season novices, and Bog Warrior heads that line-up for Tony Martin as he bids to get back on track after finishing last season in March behind Flemenstar.

And when talking about the jump season and possible Gold Cup horses, there would be a chance of being lynched by Stamullen's Peter Casey if we didn't give Flemenstar a good old mention - and there's no question he deserves it.

Sunday week is earmarked for Flemenstar's return as connections eye the Fortria Chase with what is undoubtedly one of our biggest hopes for top honours this season.

The two-time Grade One winning novice has been to The Curragh's Old Vic gallop a couple of times in recent weeks and continues to improve for each question asked of him and he is sure to be a big player for the winter.

Sir Des Champs is arguably the hottest property in this division at the minute after the manner in which For Non Stop won the Old Roan Chase at Aintree over the weekend but there are no stern plans made for his first outing yet.

Thankfully, though, the staying chases look exciting from an Irish point of view for the first time in a while.