Sizing blitzes Queen Mother field
Sizing Europe turned in a superb performance to take the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on a day when Ireland claimed six of the seven winners.
Henry de Bromhead's 10-1 shot, last year's Arkle winner, led from the sixth fence under Andrew Lynch and cleared away after the final obstacle to beat the title-holder Big Zeb by five lengths.
Captain Cee Bee was third and Golden Silver next as the Irish filled the first four places, but dual winner Master Minded lost any chance with a bad mistake at the second-last and was eased afterwards by Ruby Walsh.
Lynch said: "I'm delighted, and the horse jumped an awful lot better today. He travelled really well and I was afraid something might just quicken past me up the straight, but he's a hardy boy.
"Henry always said he wanted a strongly run two-mile race, and this is the only race all year that suits him."
De Bromhead added: "He's a good horse to have around and it's been an unbelievable week. I'm very lucky to have good horses and this fellow was electric.
"Andrew was phenomenal on him. He has no turn of foot, he just gallops and gallops, so you have to just let him go. They weren't going fast enough so Andrew took him up and he jumped great, apart from the second-last.
"Ground makes such a difference to him, he just bounces off it. He was so quiet this morning that I said to his lass he's either dead or in a very chilled-out zone. We were praying it was a chilled-out zone, which it was."
Trainer Colm Murphy said of Big Zeb: "He ran a cracker and I'm delighted with him. He could have done with the ground being a bit quicker, but the winner was very good. I imagine we will freshen him up and look at Punchestown."
Paul Nicholls added of Master Minded: "He made a bad mistake but he wouldn't have won, and like last year I think the ground was too quick. These days he might be better over two and a half miles. We will look at Aintree and next year I suspect we will end up in the King George."