Sizing's Festival odds trimmed
Irish-trained horses continued to dominate the betting for both the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Ryanair Chase following the publication of the entries for the Cheltenham Festival Grade One races yesterday.
Henry de Bromhead's Sizing Europe, an authoritative winner of the Champion Chase last year from Colm Murphy's 2010 hero Big Zeb, was trimmed into 2/1 by some firms to retain his crown come March 14, though Boylesports and Paddy Power offer odds of 5/2.
Big Zeb -- due to clash with Sizing Europe in the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on February 5 -- also tightened up a fraction, with Power's 5/1 the standout price about the 11-year-old becoming the third successive Irish winner of the two-mile championship event.
Three others, among an overall entry of 19, may have the opportunity to do likewise.
Tom Cooper's 2009 Irish Independent Arkle Trophy victor Forpadydeplasterer, Noel Meade's three-time Grade One-winning novice Realt Dubh and Willie Mullins' Galway Plate scorer Blazing Tempo complete the quintet, and those three are among 14 Irish-trained nominees for the five-furlong longer Ryanair Chase, a race yet to come this side of the Irish Sea.
As expected, Paul Nicholls has given the Arkle favourite Al Ferof the option of running in the Champion, while Don McCain's 2011 Champion Hurdle runner-up Peddlers Cross, another novice, also features in the preliminary line-up.
Paul Nolan's Noble Prince, successful over course and distance in the Jewson Chase last March, still heads the market for the Ryanair at as low as 4/1, with Rubi Light a top-priced 8/1.
Rubi Light takes in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park on February 18, while Paul Nolan yesterday confirmed plans for Noble Prince.
"He goes for the Normans Grove Chase at Fairyhouse on January 22," the handler revealed.
"That will be his final outing before Cheltenham. He travelled and jumped well in the Jewson last season. The Ryanair will obviously be different gravy this time -- it looks like it will be a very competitive contest."
Mullins' Quel Esprit and Gordon Elliott's Jessies Dream, both of which were put in the Gold Cup earlier in the week, are likewise among the 38-strong Ryanair contingent. Albertas Run and Kalahari King, first and second ahead of Rubi Light last year, are also entered.
Meanwhile, Ger Lyons has stated that his Cheveley Park-winning starlet Lightening Pearl could have a prep run prior to a tilt at the 1,000 Guineas in May.
"The Guineas at Newmarket is the plan," he said of the filly, a 25/1 shot for Classic glory. "The trial at Leopardstown at the end of March is the first option of a race for her, so we'll have a look at that."