SIZING EUROPE has now won his last five races after a comfortable success at Punchestown last Sunday, when he landed the Tied Cottage Chase by 10 lengths from Foildubh.
He did no more than he was expected to do, having been sent off 1-8f by punters, but it was a satisfactory performance on heavy ground which would not have played to his strengths.
The problem now is working out which of the three races last year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up will contest at Cheltenham as he is entered in that race again as well as the Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase.
His trainer Henry De Bromhead did say that the Gold Cup was the least likely of the three and that his best performance this season came over 2m 4f so I’m only guessing but I think he’ll end up in the Ryanair with the added bonus that you don’t have to meet the aeroplane otherwise known as Sprinter Sacre.
Saying that the Ryanair could end up being one of the races of the week this year with a lot of trainers also looking to avoid the biggest certainty of the week!
Dublin is the centre of the sporting universe this weekend with first the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Saturday and then Ireland hosting England at the Aviva in the rugby Six Nations the following day.
I have already looked at the Hennessy, opting for Sir Des Champs, so looking at the supporting races I’m going to go for Tofino Bay in the PJ Moriarty Novice Chase as long as the ground remains with the word heavy somewhere in the going description.
This fellow really is a mudlark and while not too many horses enjoy heavy ground, he certainly does as he showed when landing the Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase at Naas last time, when half a length too powerful for Aupcharlie.
That was an amazing turnaround with the runner-up, who had beaten him over 25 lengths on slightly quicker ground in the Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown three weeks’ earlier.
My other selection this week, Welsh Nayber, runs at Naas in the opening Paddy Power Cheltenham Trial Sunday 24th February Maiden Hurdle.
This fellow ran an absolute stormer at Leopardstown last time when the only horse to serve it up to the odds-on Fatcatinthehat and harshly just got done on the line for second by a horse that was staying on.
My fancy is trained by Curragh-based Brendan Duke who told me: “He appears to have come out of Leopardstown in really good form and while he looked to have a hard race, he hasn’t shown any ill effects at home. “I’m hoping to go to Cheltenham with him for the Fred Winter Novices’ Handicap Hurdle and he’ll get a mark after this race and he should run very well.”
Brendan clearly think a bit of this chap if he’s thinking of Prestbury Park and looking at a rerun of the Leopardstown race, I think that he is a horse that will do better on better ground.
Our rugby odds compilers can’t separate Ireland and England at 10-11 the pair after their respective victories against Wales and Scotland.
Obviously on paper it’s a close run thing but I’m going to go for Ireland as a win in Cardiff is probably a better result than a home win against Scotland, although I’d also have to add that I didn’t think there was much between England and Scotland apart from the home side’s focus on winning. Perhaps Brian O’Driscoll will be the deciding factor between the two teams. BOD was awesome against Wales and THAT pass to Zebo will never be forgotten.
Saturday Leopardstown 2.40 Tofino Bay; Sunday Naas 1.40pm Welsh Nayber; Sunday Aviva Stadium 3pm Ireland to beat England