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Paris doesn't have europe

Ok, so Sunday's Longchamp card is bursting with Group One winners and it may be hosting the richest race run on turf anywhere in the world but there's a few thing you won't get in Paris this weekend.

Any money says you won't see a former Champion Chaser embarking on yet another season in Paris this weekend. Cue Sizing Europe.

The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe may be worth address-changing sums of money to the winner (and even the place horses if you are not fussy on the size of your garden) but I bet the winner won't get the same reception as Rebel Fitz will in Tipperary should the much adored nine-year-old win the Grade Two Istabraq Hurdle.


Between Gowran and Tipperary there's plenty to look forward to on home soil this weekend and the cockles of hearts belonging to jump racing enthusiasts will be getting toasty at the prospect of a crispy autumn afternoon at Gowran Park with household names running over fences.

Tomorrow will mark a new chapter in the illustrious career of Sizing Europe. He's 12 now, but then again, he was 12 back in April when he was raising the roof in Punchestown as he landed the Boylesports.com Champion Chase.

Connections mulled over the prospect of retiring him but the winner of 21 races wasn't having any of it and will now be retired when he shows he has had enough. But by all accounts that won't be anytime soon.

It'll be a new chapter too for his new jockey - 18-year-old Jonathan Burke will become the seventh jockey to ride Sizing Europe in a race, only Ruby Walsh failed to win on him!

Burke was only easing his way into the limelight at the Punchestown Festival and was only 11 when Sizing Europe announced himself on the big stage by winning the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham.


'Europe', as he is affectionately known, has been the flagship horse for Henry de Bromhead and his owners Alan and Ann Potts and will be for Burke too in his new role as the retained rider for the owners.

At around about 4.45pm tomorrow afternoon, Sizing Europe will bid to win the PWC Champion Chase for a fourth consecutive year and it won't be an easy feat with the ever-improving Galway Plate winner Road To Riches stepping up to Graded company which he'll be fairly used to by the end of this season. Baily Green and Realt Mor are no back-markers either.

Burke compared the opportunity of riding Sizing Europe to running out in an All-Ireland final for Cork and the teenager wasn't lying when he said he grew up watching the horse in action.

Noel Meade has said he is happy with Sizing Europe's biggest rival Road To Riches, who enjoyed a well deserved break after his Galway Plate annihilation.

Look ahead to Sunday and you have Rebel Fitz taking his next step en route to more ambitious plans over the busy Christmas period.

The nine-year-old oozed class when bolting up in an amateur flat race at Listowel a couple of weeks ago and with trainer Mick Winters eyeing some big Grade One targets over fences, he'll warm up in the hurdle race in which he finished second to Captain Cee Bee two years ago.

Winters has warned that running Rebel Fitz so quick after Listowel is a slight concern but also admitted that it looked like his race to win, so rapturous scenes in the Tipperary parade ring should be nearly a given.

Oh ... another thing you won't see in Paris this weekend is a certain Liam McCarthy and rumour has it he fancies a day out at his favourite racecourse, Gowran Park, tomorrow.