Sublimity may be biggest Champion threat, says De Bromhead

HENRY DE BROMHEAD is set to hand Sizing Europe an imminent away-day as he plots a path to Cheltenham for a tilt at the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle.

The six-year-old beat Osana in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at the course in November before leaping to favouritism for the March 11 feature with a smooth success in the AIG Europe Champion.

De Bromhead said: “He’ll probably go for a gallop away from home next week sometime and at the moment he is just ticking away.

“He seems in good form and he schooled this morning and jumped great. I’m happy with him at the moment.

“I keep having to pinch myself that we have the favourite for the Champion Hurdle but the nerves aren’t too bad at the moment.”

De Bromhead believes reigning title-holder Sublimity could yet emerge as the biggest threat to Sizing Europe in the Champion, but reserves a great deal of respect for the other contenders.

Of Sublimity, he said: “I thought he was a very impressive winner of the race last year but I genuinely believe all of them are threats.

“(Osana) was giving us 6lb (in the Greatwood) so that looks like a fair performance by him to finish as close as he did.

“There are the bigger-priced horses of the likes of Ebaziyan, who is a course-and-distance winner in the Supreme, and Catch Me, who won the other day. They’re all there.”

De Bromhead does not believe Sizing Europe would be inconvenienced by the quicker ground that often predominates in March.

“He won at Punchestown on good ground at the Festival last year,” he said. His run before that was at Fairyhouse and he made a mistake at the second-last on his first run back. It was good to firm ground that day and he was only beaten five lengths by De Valira.

“I thought that was a very good run for his first run back, so I wouldn’t be overly concerned.

“If I could pick what ground I wanted I would say he’d want it on the soft side of good.”

Meanwhile, Dusty Sheehy is delighted with the condition of Trafford Lad as the Kilkenny trainer plots an assault on the Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The lightly-raced gelding won his first three races, including one at Grade One level, before finding the concession of 7lb to Venalmar just beyond him in January.

Trafford Lad stood his ground in the Ballymore and the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the forfeit stage, but Sheehy confirmed the shorter race as his favoured target.

we’ve just not run since Naas because he’d have had to give away a Grade One penalty.

“We’ve done that once before and we don’t want to do it again but we’re very happy with the horse. Hopefully he can stay that way for the next few weeks.

“He might get one school up the Curragh, maybe over hurdles up there, and we’ll chip away but he’ll not do anything on the racecourse as he’s plenty fit and well.”

Trafford Lad features among the 107 horses still in the Ballymore, along with ante-post favourite Aigle D’Or.

Prominent fancies Forpadydeplasterer, Group Captain and Breedsbreeze are still involved, although that trio are also still in the Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

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