Sizing digs deep in Champion show
Sizing Europe defied the gruelling conditions as he pulled out all the stops to land the boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown.
Henry de Bromhead's stable star, placed in the last two renewals of the Grade One contest, was sent off the 8-13 favourite to end his season on a high and tracked early pacesetter China Rock for the much of the two-mile journey before jumping into the lead four fences from home.
The gambled-on Realt Dubh stuck with him all the way up the home straight, but a determined Sizing Europe would not be denied under Andrew Lynch, plugging on tenaciously to score by two and a quarter lengths.
De Bromhead said: "I'm not even looking back (at Cheltenham, where he was controversially beaten in the Queen Mother Champion Chase), I'm savouring today. It's amazing, all of us at home put a lot of hard work into it.
"Realt Dubh is a good horse, especially on that soft ground, but our fellow is an unbelievable horse, one in a lifetime. It's very hard to win these races and the ground is testing enough, they are finishing tired.
"Realt Dubh was bearing down on us and I was getting a bit nervous, but our lad ground it out and we're delighted. Andrew knows him like the back of his hand at this stage and he jumped great - everything went to plan. On that ground he was there to be shot at and it was uncomfortable coming to the last, but he's so tough."
Paddy Power make Sizing Europe a 10-1 chance to regain his Champion Chase crown back at Cheltenham next March, but the trainer is not ruling out stepping his charge back up in distance.
He has finished second in the last two renewals of the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal over three miles.
De Bromhead said: "I've no idea what we'll do. We're going to enjoy today and we'll discuss things with Alan and Ann (Potts, owners) over the summer. He's had an unbelievable season. He'll be 11 this time next year, so he's getting older. Maybe we'll step him up again. I wouldn't be opposed to trying him over three miles next season."
Lynch added: "The ground is a bit softer than ideal for him, but he has a big heart and he pulled out all the stops. He idled up the straight and though he is handling that ground better as he gets older, he is still way better on better ground."