Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Europe and Roque clash again

Sizing Europe is set to face eight rivals when he bids to secure his first victory over three miles in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday.

Henry de Bromhead's multiple Grade One winner has shown his very best form over two miles, winning an Arkle Trophy and a Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, but connections have experimented over longer distances before.

The 10-year-old has filled the runner-up spot in this weekend's Grade One for the last two years, chasing home Kauto Star in 2010 and Quito De La Roque 12 months ago.

He looks to have every chance of going one better, with ground conditions in Northern Ireland currently described as good to soft, and he is reopposed by the Colm Murphy-trained Quito De La Roque, who has been sidelined since finishing third in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown last Christmas.

Mouse Morris was leaning towards running First Lieutenant at Wetherby earlier in the week but has now decided to run him at Down Royal.

The trainer said: "Wetherby is out. The ground is good in Down Royal so we might as well run there as it's easier than travelling over to England."

Paul Nolan's Joncol would have a chance on the pick of his form and Paul Nicholls' Kauto Stone is the sole British representative. Daryl Jacob takes the ride, with stable jockey Ruby Walsh heading to Wetherby.

A nine-runner field is completed by Bob Lingo, Chicago Grey, Follow The Plan and Realt Dubh.

Kauto Stone won the Grade Two Ladbrokes Chase on the same card a year ago, a race for which six horses have been declared this time around.

Tony Martin's Bog Warrior takes top billing, but British champion trainer Nicholls saddles a major threat in Cristal Bonus and is looking to win the race for the fifth straight year. Imperial Shabra, Rivage D'Or, Mia's Vic and Jackonslady complete the line-up for the two-and-a-half-mile test.