Sizing Europe is set to head straight to the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival after maintaining his unbeaten record over fences during the Festive period.
Henry de Bromhead's eight-year-old, a former winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle, took his tally to four from four over the larger obstacles with victory in the Bord na Mona with Nature Novice Chase at Leopardstown on December 26.
Many felt Sizing Europe was a lucky winner that day, with Captain Cee Bee falling when upsides at the final obstacle, but De Bromhead does not believe the result was a formality.
“Captain Cee Bee looked to be going better but we hadn't been challenged, so who knows? It didn't happen and that's the reality,” he said.
“Our horse jumped the first like he always would, accelerating through the air, but from there on he didn't jump as well.
“I'd imagine he will go straight to Cheltenham now and I think he's as good, if not better than ever.
“You'd have to be worried about all of them in the Arkle as there are some very high-class horses in the race.”
De Bromhead is not ruling out letting his charge instead line up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, but admits it is unlikely at this stage.
“I'd say he'll have an entry in the Champion Chase but I'd imagine we'll stick with the novices,” De Bromhead said.
Henry de Bromhead is in no rush to decide on a Cheltenham Festival target for his smart novice hurdler Loosen My Load.
The six-year-old has suffered only one defeat in five career outings and impressed when winning a Grade Two event at Cheltenham on his latest appearance. De Bromhead will consider the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle for his charge but is keen not to decide one way or another just yet.
“We're not sure what we're doing yet but he'll be entered in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at
Leopardstown at the beginning of February over two miles and two furlongs,” de Bromhead said.
“I'd say he'll have an entry in the Supreme Novices Hurdle and what used to be the SunAlliance over two miles, five furlongs at the Cheltenham Festival in March and we'll see between now and then.”
Meanwhile, With the Dubai Carnival on the horizon, one man will be looking forward to racing at the new Meydan racecourse more than most people.
South African Mike de Kock ruled the roost at Nad Al Sheba for a number of years but intends to hit the ground running at the first meeting on January 28.
De Kock has recruited the likes of 2008 Irish Derby winner Frozen Fire and 2009 Irish Derby runner-up Golden Sword from Aidan O'Brien's yard plus a host of horses with top-class form in South Africa.