Horses To Follow » Sizing Europe

Sizing Europe

Sizing Europe was an impressive winner of this year’s Arkle. Prominent in the early stages, just held towards the outside by Andrew Lynch, he got in a little tight to the second fence, but after that his jumping was really good, he got into a nice rhythm behind a decent pace set by I’m Delilah and Sports Line, and he got better as the race developed. After a brilliant leap at the ninth, Henry de Bromhead’s gelding moved up to join Mad Max as they came down the hill. These two were the only two still on the bridle going to the second last. Mad Max made a fairly bad mistake at that obstacle, leaving Sizing Europe in front, and Lynch committed as the rest of the field where now coming under pressure. He jumped the last well and, although Osana kept on well and Somersby finished to some effect up the hill, it never looked like either was going to catch the leader, who was probably idling.

This performance went along way to banishing the memories of the champion hurdle three years ago. Eventually pulled up after travelling supremely well down the hill that day, many people were left questioning his ability to finish out his races, despite the fact that the reason for his failure there has been well documented since. He deserved this, he proved that he is top class over fences as well as over hurdles. This was a vintage renewal of the Arkle. Osana had finished second in the 2008 Champion Hurdle and was rated 163 over hurdles, Somersby was a close third to this years’ Champion hurdle favourite in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and was always going to be better over fences. Add to that the 2008 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Captain Cee Bee and Riverside Theatre, who was amongst the top novice hurdlers last year, and you had a top class Arkle. It could be argued that the race was run to suit Sizing Europe, as he was in front throughout and some of the main contenders were held up. But he had the pace to lie up there early on, effortlessly, and he found lots when his rider asked to go and win his, which was very impressive given that he was up there with the fast early pace. He did look like a fortunate winner of the Grade 1 novices’ chase at Leopardstown at Christmas, when Captain Cee Bee came down at the last, but he was still in front that day and may have found more if he needed to, like he did here.

The drying ground did not present a problem to Sizing Europe and he appears to be capable on both types of ground. There is a possibility that Sizing Europe could step up in trip next season, which would be interesting. He was an easy winner of his beginners’ chase over two and a half miles on heavy ground, and he is out of a Mandalus mare, with plenty of stamina in his pedigree. He would be a fascinating challenger to Kauto Star in next season’s King George if that scenario were to develop. Alternatively, he could stay at two miles, in which case he would be a huge player in the Champion Chase, with Master Minded now vulnerable and Big Zeb heading for his 10th birthday. In the immediate term, he will be a big contender in whichever race he contests at Punchestown, where he has already won three times over fences.

16th March 2010