Ground swaying Sizing Europe towards Champion Chase
The general consensus was that Sizing Europe would tackle the less prestigious Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival over his usual tilt at the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but the possibility of rain in the build up may bring a change of plan.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead is still saying that it is a 50/50 coin toss between the two races, but with Ladbrokes now offering non runner money back on all 27 Cheltenham contests, punters are offered a bit more flexibility.
Sizing Europe is 5/1 to win the Champion Chase for the second time in three years, following a victory in 2011 and a runner-up finish to Finian’s Rainbow 12 months ago, where he was arguably cost the race by the decision to omit the final fence.
Furthermore, the fact that he had to cut out the running for most of the race because of the early fall of Wishfall Thinking would not have best suited him.
The supplemented Mail De Bievre may well set a fast gallop this time and this would assist Sizing Europe, although probably not to the point where he could realistically threaten odds-on favourite Sprinter Sacre.
Sprinter Sacre is unbeaten over 2m without being truly extended and has victories on his record on different types of ground. He does seem as bombproof as a Cheltenham horse could be and the only way that he can logically be beaten is if he was to fall over or unseat Barry Geraghty.
The entry of Sprinter Sacre has scared off numerous opponents and there is certainly a strong possibility that Sizing Europe could fill the forecast behind him.
There is no such superstar in the Ryanair and this more obvious chance of victory is the reason why this race may have the greater appeal to connections.
Meanwhile, in his four victories this season, Sizing Europe has arguably impressed more in the pair over 2m4f than the two over the Champion Chase distance of 2m.
But, he has not truly stayed 3m in the past and if the ground was soft at Cheltenham in a quickly-run Ryanair, Sizing Europe may be found out for stamina.
Therefore, tackling 2m on a softer surface would make more sense and should the forecast of rain be correct, Sizing Europe may run in the Champion Chase for the third successive year.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.