Cheltenham options open for Europe

Sizing Europe will be given entries in three championship races at Cheltenham - the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Ryanair Chase and the Betfred Gold Cup.

Cheltenham options open for Europe

While trainer Henry de Bromhead admits the Champion Chase would be the “favourite” he wants to keep all options open.

His latest success came in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase over two miles and a furlong at Leopardstown, but he was not quite as convincing there as he had been for his two previous wins this season, both over two and a half miles.

However, De Bromhead reports the 11-year-old, winner of the Champion Chase in 2001 and runner-up last season, to have taken the race in his stride.

“He was out this morning and seems in great form. We were delighted with him. Any day you win a Grade One is a great day,” De Bromhead said.

“We’d love to see him one day over three miles on good ground. We’ve said he definitely wants good ground and we were delighted we weren’t at Kempton (for the King George VI Chase) the way it turned out to be a real slog. That wouldn’t have suited us.

“We just want to weigh everything up and see. He’s a Champion Chase winner so I suppose that would have to be favourite, but a couple of his runs earlier this season were very good over two and a half.

“He probably wasn’t as impressive the last day at Leopardstown against a higher-rated horse (than on his two previous runs) in Rubi Light, so I wouldn’t like to say yet.

“I will discuss it with Alan and Ann (Potts, owners) and we’ll decide in the next month or so.

“He’d probably be the highest-rated of them in the Ryanair but I haven’t analysed it all yet. We will probably enter him in the three races. They all close very soon and it will at least keep our options open.”

Noel Meade meanwhile is in no rush to make any big plans for Ned Buntline after he got off the mark over hurdles at the second attempt at Leopardstown last week.

The trainer waxed lyrical about his star youngster after he ran away with a Naas bumper on his seasonal reappearance, but he suffered a shock defeat on his hurdling bow at Fairyhouse at the start of December.

However, he was an impressive winner of what looked a good race over the Christmas period and Meade is hoping it is onwards and upwards from here.

Meade said: “He won well and we’ve always thought he was a nice horse, but he is such a big horse we won’t be rushing him.

“We’ll give him four weeks, maybe longer, and then find another two-mile novice hurdle with him and go from there.

“I’m not sure where we’ll go, it just depends what comes along at the right time.

“There are races in Naas and Punchestown, so we’ll just tip along with him for another week or two and then see.

“He does seem to have taken the race well.”

Charles Byrnes has given Solwhit a clean bill of health after his fine comeback at at Punchestown on Monday.

The six-times Grade One winner had been off the track for very nearly two years but ran a mighty race to finish second to the classy Bog Warrior.

Byrnes is now looking towards the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas later in the month.

“Solwhit has come out of the race very well, and I was delighted with the way he travelled and jumped,” said Byrnes.

“He travelled like the good horse we know he is, and just got tired in the straight. In that ground he was up against a fair one in Bog Warrior.

“The Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas (January 19) is a possibility, although I will need to have a look at the conditions of the race.”

Irish Welsh National raider Jadanli is a 25-1 chance with the sponsors and is an intended runner from the yard of Paul Gilligan.

Winner of the Grade One Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in 2010, Jadanli has had three runs in the last couple of months on his return since he finished third in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran last January, and is another confirmed mudlark.

Gilligan said: “That’s the plan, we intend going. Our horse will love the ground. I’ve been setting him aside all year for this race and hopefully now he might get into the money there.

“I’m happy with him and he should run well.

“At the moment Alain Cawley rides him, all being well. He’s doing well across the water and he’s local to me here at home.”

Giles Cross meanwhile continues to attract ante-post support for the race as the Victor Dartnall-trained 11-year-old bids to make it third-time-lucky in the Chepstow marathon at the weekend.

Dartnall’s charge has been runner-up in the last two renewals of the valuable handicap chase, although he had made one previous racecourse appearance the same season on both occasions.

However, with Dartnall’s North Devon stables having closed for a few weeks due to an outbreak of equine herpes, Giles Cross goes straight to Chepstow for his first run of the campaign.

Dartnall believes that will not be a handicap as he has got plenty of work into his prolific stayer, who has won first time out in the past.

“He seems very well,” said the trainer.

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