Wednesday 13 December 2017

Stars can see off Fitz threat

Racing: Today's card at Tipperary best illustrates the exceptional racing that comes with the finale of the Flat season and the return to action of the jump stars, writes Ronan Groome.

A little more than 10 minutes after we learn of the new Arc winner, attention will cross to the Premier county to see the return of the popular Thousand Stars.

Willie Mullins's horse must be a joy to own. His campaign began in November last season and did not finish until he made it back-to-back French Champion Hurdles in Auteuil in June. It's testament to the horse that he is one of the first big names back out again this season and he should be able to make it a winning start as he did in the Morgiana hurdle last season.

In saying that, he probably didn't face a horse with the potential of Rebel Fitz in that race, and Michael Fitzsimmons will be brimming with excitement ahead of the jumps season with his stable star.

Such is the competitiveness of the Galway Hurdle now, it's not inconceivable that the winner can evolve into a genuine Champion Hurdle contender, and off a mark of 155 after just 10 runs over hurdles, Rebel Fitz could well improve into that type of standard.

Mullins also reintroduces the classy Blackstairmountain, while there still seems to be life in the old boy Captain Cee Bee, which ran a cracker behind Rebel Fitz in the Galway Hurdle, and may well be able to win a nice prize this season.


Sizing Europe made a pleasing seasonal reappearance with a smooth win in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park. A rather fortunate winner of this two-and-a-half-mile contest 12 months ago, Henry de Bromhead's stable star duly landed his 16th success from 32 starts.

Although China Rock and Joncol were late absentees, the Grade Two race was no walk-over as I Hear A Symphony made it a true test.

Sizing Europe, the 11/10 favourite, always had the leader in his sights and jumped in front at the second-last fence. The 2011 Queen Mother Champion Chase hero pulled away to strike by seven and a half lengths from Forpadydeplasterer.

It provided jockey Andrew Lynch with his first winner on his second day back after he broke a leg in a fall at Cork in May.

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