Tributes flow for 'horse of a lifetime' as Sizing Europe retires
Former champion chaser Sizing Europe has been formally retired at 13 years of age, two months after gracing the stage for a final time at his beloved Cheltenham Festival.
A brilliant winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle for Henry de Bromhead's still-fledgling Co Waterford stable in 2008, the son of Pistolet Bleu won the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy in 2010 before slamming Colm Murphy's title-holding Big Zeb in the Queen Mother Champion Chase a year later.
He went on to be second twice more in the two-mile championship event.
Last year, he served it up to Sire De Grugy before finishing a gallant fourth en route to a stirring Punchestown victory. On his farewell outing in March, he came home seventh.
Sizing Europe ends his distinguished career with eight Grade One triumphs. He amassed €1.8m in prize money for owners Alan and Ann Potts, winning 22 times in all, the latest courtesy of a brave defeat of Road To Riches under Jonathan Burke at Gowran Park in October, eight years after his first.
"There has been too many highlights to pinpoint one and he really has been the horse of a lifetime," De Bromhead said of his stable star. "We're delighted he retires in one piece, and hopefully he'll take part in the racehorse to riding horse shows in the future."
Andrew Lynch, who rode Sizing Europe to 15 of his last 16 wins, said: "He has been unbelievable for my career and we had some fantastic days. There were the two wins at Cheltenham and then for him to go and win in Punchestown last year just capped it all off."
At Sligo last night, Mark Walsh maintained his recent purple patch by completing a 5/1 double in the opening two races.
The Kildare rider first struck aboard Whatsforuwontgobyu (10/11) for Tony Martin in the two-mile maiden hurdle and then followed up in the mares' equivalent on the Colin Bowe-trained Mollyanna (2/1) which saw off Court Challenge by just under lengths.