Europe team to make late decision on festival target

A decision on Sizing Europe’s target at Cheltenham is set to be left until the last moment.

Europe team to make late decision on festival target

Henry de Bromhead’s stable star holds engagements in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the longer Ryanair Chase.

Should connections opt for the Queen Mother, he would be attempting to regain the crown he won in 2011 and was second in last year.

De Bromhead said: “Strong cases can be made for both races and myself, and Alan and Ann (Potts, owners) will have to sit down and discuss everything much closer to the time.

“But we will leave it late. I don’t want to give any indication either way because I don’t know. Things can change day-to-day.

“It’s looking unlikely that the ground will be soft at Cheltenham but if it did turn up soft or heavy, then that could make the two miles and five of the Ryanair less likely. So we will leave everything until closer to the time.”

Sizing Europe can be backed at 7-1 for the Queen Mother behind red-hot favourite Sprinter Sacre, and 6-1 for the Ryanair.

David Pipe’s Ballynagour meanwhile has gone up 21lb in the ratings after his facile Warwick success last week.

The seven-year-old landed a real gamble at the Midlands track when a 19-length winner of what had looked a competitive handicap chase on his debut for the yard.

And, having been taken out of a pair of possible engagements this week, it would seem that connections now believe that he’s guaranteed a run at Cheltenham having been put up to a mark of 143 over fences.

Currently trading at 7/1 with Sky Bet for the Byrne Group Plate, he’s now rated higher than stablemate Salut Flo was prior to his victory in that race last year, while his rating should also give connections the option of going for either the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual or the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase.

Having only gone up a stone over hurdles, entries in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, Coral Cup and Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle also catch the eye should connections opt to switch him to smaller obstacles.

Noble Prince, a Cheltenham Festival winner over fences two years ago, could prep for the Coral Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Trained by Paul Nolan for Des Sharkey, the son of Montjeu has not been seen since October when he was well beaten in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree.

He was a four-length winner of the Jewson Novices’ Chase at the festival in 2011, but was pulled up in the Ryanair 12 months ago.

Noble Prince, who began his career on the Flat with Andre Fabre, is entered only for the Coral Cup — which he ranges from 20-1 to 33-1 for — at Cheltenham and has decent handicap hurdle form at the meeting having finishing fifth to Thousand Stars in the 2010 County Hurdle.

On Tuesday he featured among 34 entries for Leopardstown’s Ballsbridge Hurdle on Sunday, when he could face the classy Blackstairmountain.

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