Europe proves great at Cheltenham

Sizing Europe ignored the quite atrocious conditions at Cheltenham to give Henry de Bromhead his finest training moment in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.

Sizing Europe ignored the quite atrocious conditions at Cheltenham to give Henry de Bromhead his finest training moment in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.

Denied a probable victory at Punchestown last month when falling at the second-last, the promising five-year-old had ridden high in the ante-post markets for this race since betting commenced.

Sizing Europe (5-1) was actually usurped as favourite on the day by the well-supported but ultimately disappointing Lead On, but after carrying home 11st 6lb in a very competitive event, he now enters the Champion Hurdle picture, albeit as an outsider at this stage.

His rider Timmy Murphy was at the front from four out, switching to the near rail turning for home, and although he hung across the track in the closing stage and was headed by brave top-weight Osana, Sizing Europe pulled a convincing four lengths away at the post.

Irish victories at Cheltenham are usually cheered from the rafters but only a brave few dared greet him from a rain-lashed winner’s enclosure.

Not that de Bromhead minded. “It’s the biggest win of my career by far and my first at Cheltenham,” he said.

“I’ve had a couple of placed horses here, but this is my first and a good way to start. It’s phenomenal to win here. It’s pretty miserable here at the moment but you wouldn’t mind that.”

Ladbrokes and VC Bet make him a 25-1 shot to follow in 2002 winner Rooster Booster’s hoofprints and take the Champion Hurdle.

“I’m a dreamer, so we’ll be thinking about that, but I’d say we’ll look for a conditions hurdle somewhere first,” added de Bromhead. But I’ve always thought he could be the real deal.”

Osana thrilled owner Thomas Barr, who said: “In those conditions, that was a fine effort. We haven’t thought about what we’ll do, but he’ll probably stay hurdling.”

The injury-ravaged Chivalry, a running-on third, is now likely to head for the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot, although rider Paul O’Neill was given a one-day ban (November 29) for using the whip with excessive frequency.

Moon Over Miami is becoming a regular at the Open meeting and restored a slightly tarnished reputation in the Independent Newspaper Novices´ Chase.

A Grade Two winner over hurdles here a year ago, Charlie Mann’s gelding was allowed to go off at 10-1 after flopping on his reappearance at Kempton last month.

He bounded around Prestbury Park under Noel Fehily, clearing eight lengths away from 9-4 favourite Predateur.

Bookmakers were split on a price for next March’s Arkle Trophy, with William Hill offering 33-1 but Coral only 16s.

Mann said: “I think you’ve seen a serious horse today and I’ve always been thinking about the Arkle.

“Everything went wrong at Kempton – his first run for 10 months – but he was a lot more settled this time and that is all down to Jeremy Young, who rides him at home.

“We also have a very good, steep surface which we put in in July and our horses have been very fit.”

Paul Nicholls’ wretched weekend continued in the Gideon Kasler Novices’ Hurdle, where 4-6 favourite Elusive Dream was a sorry fourth.

Instead, a tidy victory materialised for the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Razor Royale (7-1), with staying chaser Nenuphar Collonges shaping nicely for the season ahead in second.

Noel Chance showed he still has the magic to send in Mendo for a first-time-out 16-1 triumph in the Browne’s Gazette Intermediate Handicap Hurdle.

The positively-ridden Sobers went for home first while Mendo and a cool Tom Siddall tracked him and drew alongside at the last.

Vale Of Avocia also came into the reckoning up the final hill but Siddall pulled out enough to hold on.

Chance said: “He did a leg as a bumper horse then had a year off, and if that hadn’t happened, he could have gone right to the top.

“But he’s a lovely horse and the plan was to come here, then go chasing.”

The Open Bumper was abandoned after rain had filled the holes left by the removed hurdles, making the ground unsafe.

More in this section

Sport Push Notifications

By clicking on 'Sign Up' you will be the first to know about our latest and best sporting content on this browser.

Sign Up

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd