Sizing Europe defied the gruelling conditions as he pulled out all the stops to land the Boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown.
Henry de Bromhead’s stable star had been placed in the last two renewals of the Grade One contest, and returned having lost his crown in a controversial running of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
The last fence had to be bypassed at Prestbury Park and that gave some initiative to his eventual conqueror Finian’s Rainbow.
Sent off the 8-13 favourite to end his season on a high, Sizing Europe tracked early pacesetter China Rock for the much of the two-mile journey and jumped into the lead four fences from home.
The gambled-on Realt Dubh stuck with him all the way up the home straight, but a determined Sizing Europe would not be denied under Andrew Lynch, plugging on tenaciously to score by two and a quarter lengths.
De Bromhead said: ``The ground is testing enough and they are finishing tired. Realt Dubh was bearing down on us there at the last and I was getting a bit nervous, but in fairness our lad ground it out and we're delighted.
“He jumped great. Out of that ground he is never going to jump with the same exuberance he does on better ground, but he went and did the job.”
Paddy Power make Sizing Europe a 10-1 chance to regain his Champion Chase crown back at Cheltenham next March, but the trainer is not ruling out stepping his charge back up in distance at some stage.
He has finished second in the last two renewals of the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal over three miles.
“I’ve no idea what we’ll do at this stage. We’re just going to enjoy today and we’ll discuss things with Alan and Ann (Potts, owners) over the summer,” De Bromhead added.
“He’s had an unbelievable season and we’ll mull it over and see. He’ll be 11 this time next year, so he’s getting older. Maybe we’ll step him up again, we’ll see.”