Sizing flying ahead of Punchestown
Sizing Europe remains on course for the Boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown on Tuesday.
The 10-year-old was narrowly beaten by Finian's Rainbow when defending his crown in a controversial Queen Mother Champion Chase at last month's Cheltenham Festival.
The final fence had to be bypassed, which some say may have hindered Henry de Bromhead's stable star. Either way, the form looks rock solid with Finian's Rainbow coming out and winning the Melling Chase at Aintree last week and De Bromhead is thrilled with him ahead of his latest assignment.
"He seems in good form. He worked this morning and worked well, he's schooling well and everything seems good, so we're aiming for Tuesday. His form is pretty solid around Punchestown," said De Bromhead.
The County Waterford handler is preparing a strong team for the Punchestown Festival as a whole.
He told At The Races: "Sizing Rio is a nice young horse and he'll probably run in the four-year-old bumper, Buckers Bridge won in Gowran and he might run in the winner's bumper and Sizing Australia will go for either the La Touche Cup on Thursday or possibly the three-mile cross-country race on the Saturday.
"Berties Dream is in the three-mile Grade One hurdle (Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle). He's as tough as you can get. He won on heavy ground over fences at Thurles in January and then went back there to win on fast ground over hurdles."
Sizing Europe could faces up to nine rivals following the latest entry stage for Tuesday's feature event, including old rival Big Zeb. He beat Sizing Europe by three-quarters of a length in this contest 12 months ago, but the tables have been turned in two subsequent meetings, with Big Zeb a well-beaten third at Cheltenham last time.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Wishfull Thinking fell at Cheltenham before finishing second to Finian's Rainbow at Aintree and he could feature at the third major spring Festival. The only other British entry is Gauvain from the Nick Williams stable.
Paul Nolan's Noble Prince will be on a recovery mission if he lines up having pulled up in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, while Captain Cee Bee, China Rock, Forpadydeplasterer, Realt Dubh and Zaarito complete the entries.