The main British hope in Wednesday’s sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase is Finian’s Rainbow, who had Realt Dubh six lengths back in third when runner-up to Captain Chris in last year’s Arkle Trophy.
While fearing Sizing Europe, trainer Nicky Henderson feels his charge is in good shape after being caught close home by Somersby in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot in January.
“He’s a more relaxed person this year than he was in the Arkle,” said the Seven Barrows handler.
“You can’t get away from Sizing Europe, he looks the real deal, but I think we can give him a race. He was good at Ascot but is a bit sharper now.”
Jockey Barry Geraghty also feels there is to more to come from the second-season chaser.
“He hasn’t delivered on his potential this year. I think there’s better to come from him,” he said.
“He ran a good race at Ascot but just from the turn in, I expected more and it just wasn’t there.
“He ran keen in the Arkle last year but he’s settling better this year so I thought he’d get home stronger.
“I think wherever he does bring his A-game, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in any two-mile chase.
“I just don’t think we saw the best of him at Ascot and I hope we do at Cheltenham because he’ll be a big player if we do.
“He’ll have his ground but so will Big Zeb and Sizing Europe, it’s a top-class race.”
The horse’s owner Michael Buckley is hopeful of giving Sizing Europe a race.
“All things being equal, he will be in much better shape on Wednesday than he has been this year,” he told At The Races.
“If he runs his race and all goes well, we’ve got a good chance of bustling up Sizing Europe a bit.
“I can’t say he’ll win as we’ve got no form line except that the Arkle last year was run in a slightly better time than the Champion Chase.
“It was the same course a day later but the going hadn’t changed.
“I think he’s got a sporting chance and fingers crossed he runs a big race.
“He settled better now and he’s got a very good cruising speed and in terms of tactics, if Sizing Europe runs his normal race and likes to go on, what I think might happen is we might just follow him down the hill and see what happens once everyone is round the bend for home.”
Kauto Stone, half-brother to dual Gold Cup winner Kauto Star, chased home Sizing Europe in the Tingle Creek but was well-beaten behind Riverside Theatre over an extended two miles and five furlongs at Ascot.
“He was second in the Tingle Creek then ran too free at Ascot,” said trainer Paul Nicholls.
“He still jumps a bit French-style, but if he jumps well he could run into a place.”