Kauto tough to beat - De Bromhead
Henry de Bromhead is expecting a big run from Sizing Europe in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
But the Irish trainer recognises four-time winner Kauto Star once again represents a formidable foe. Paul Nicholls' superstar had Sizing Europe immediately behind him when making a winning return to action at Down Royal last month.
That was former Arkle Trophy hero Sizing Europe's first try at three miles, and De Bromhead has no regrets at stepping up in trip this season.
He told the Daily Mail: "Kauto Star is probably the best chaser I've seen. I'm not saying we are going to beat him but if he finished in the first three, you'd be delighted.
"Sizing Europe is classy at two miles but I would have hated to have had a great three-miler go through our hands without trying him at the distance."
Nicky Henderson, meanwhile, decided Punchestowns did not quite have the required experience over fences to run in the big Christmas feature.
Owner Judy Wilson's seven-year-old was a top-class staying hurdler, finding only Big Buck's too strong in the World Hurdle of 2009. Sent chasing last season, he won his first two starts impressively, including the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown.
However, despite being sent off the 2-1 favourite in the RSA Chase in March, he could only finish fifth behind Weapon's Amnesty.
Henderson said: "I'm aiming Punchestowns at the Mandarin at Newbury on December 29. We just decided that with just three runs over fences the King George is not his race at the moment.
"There is the opportunity of a nice race at Newbury over three miles for intermediates and if he comes through that we'll start thinking of moving up whole scale. He is top class if everything goes right, which it didn't at Cheltenham for him or Long Run which is why Burton Port came out on top."