Europe aims for Cottage glory again

Trainer Henry de Bromhead will step up Sizing Europe’s Cheltenham Festival preparations when he runs the 11-year-old in the Grade 2 Boylesports.com Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.

Europe aims  for Cottage glory again

Twice a winner over 2m 4f and once at 2m 1f on his last three starts, Sizing Europe’s versatility is reflected in his entries in the Champion Chase, Ryanair and Gold Cup. However De Bromhead is yet to commit to any race.

Sizing Europe, winner of the Tied Cottage last year, is one of seven entries for Sunday’s race, and De Bromhead said: “Sizing Europe did a piece of work on the beach this morning and he is in great form.

“He came out of his race at Christmas well so we are looking forward to the Tied Cottage on Sunday. It was a key race in our campaign last year so we are sticking to that plan.”

The sponsors have installed Sizing Europe as 1-4 favourite, with Paddy Power offering 2-7, and among his rivals could be Foildubh, who was pulled up in the Kinloch Brae Chase on his last start at Thurles.

Trainer John Patrick Ryan said: “Foildubh was unlucky in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles a fortnight ago when he was almost brought down at the fifth fence and pulled up, so he got no race as such that day.

“He appears to be in great nick at the minute and likes Punchestown, having won the Grade A Guinness handicap chase at the festival last year. Two miles is plenty for him on heavy ground but obviously Sizing Europe is the horse to beat.”

Meanwhile, Ned Buntline could aim for a second victory over obstacles in the Racing UK Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday.

Trainer Noel Meade spoke about the five-year-old in glowing terms after an impressive victory in a Naas bumper in November and although he was beaten on his hurdling bow at Fairyhouse, he bounced back with victory at Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day.

He could step up to Grade Two company this weekend and Meade is keen to see how he fares on his next run before making any decision about a possible trip to the Cheltenham Festival in March.

“He might run in Punchestown on Sunday and we’ll see what happens then before we make plans for Cheltenham,” said Meade.

“He will run somewhere (before Cheltenham), it might be Punchestown this weekend, so we’ll see. His next run will tell us more.”

Ned Buntline is one of 12 entries for this weekend’s two-mile contest, with champion trainer Willie Mullins entering Mozoltov, Reine Angevine and Twigline.

Gordon Elliott’s Don Cossack is another interesting contender, along with the Margaret Mullins-trained Mumbo Jumbo and Starkie from Henry de Bromhead’s yard.

Elsewhere, no extra entries were received for the reopened Betfred Mobile Lotto Challengers Novices’ Chase at Sandown on Saturday.

Nicky Henderson’s Captain Conan is the headline act in the race better known as the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase having already won at Grade One level.

In any other yard he would be a massive hope for the Arkle but with Simonsig also hailing from Seven Barrows, Henderson is keen to see if the two-and-a-half-mile trip suits.

Paul Nicholls has entered Rebel Rebellion rather than Unioniste, who was due to tackle Captain Conan in a novice chase which was subsequently scrapped due to a lack of runners.

Venetia Williams is enjoying a great season and her Houblon Des Obeaux has shown a smart level of form this season.

Changing Times is progressing for Nigel Twiston-Davies while Lucinda Russell has put in Tap Night, who also holds an entry at Musselburgh on Sunday.

Top Smart and Third Intention complete the list.

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