Stamina test to shape Sizing plans
Day two of Punchestown's opening autumn fixture is certainly not only one to savour as midweek meetings go at this time of year, but it is a clear signal that the winter is almost upon us and the National Hunt season is returning to top gear.
Henry de Bromhead has a major role to play in the quality on show as he is set to run two of his stable stars at the Co Kildare track tomorrow afternoon.
The ground is surprisingly quick at Punchestown for this time of year, something officials certainly weren't expecting but the inclusion of Sizing Europe is a sign of confidence from the Waterford trainer that the racecourse is set to provide adequately safe jumping ground.
Last season's Irish Independent Arkle winner at the Cheltenham Festival, was last seen at Punchestown when going down to Golden Silver in the Boylesports.com Champion Chase, but is now set to sample new territory with a step up to 2m7f tomorrow.
De Bromhead is making the step up in trip to see if his charge will be able to compete with the chasing elite such as Imperial Commander and Kauto Star and, if all goes well at Ireland's home of jump racing tomorrow, he is likely to then take on the challenge of the King George at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.
Race sponsors William Hill make Sizing Europe a 14/1 chance to win the King George on the eve of his seasonal bow. He is a 16/1 chance for the Gold Cup, while Kauto Star is 7/4 for a historic King George success.
De Bromhead said yesterday: "Alan and Ann Potts are very keen to explore the 3m route as the season progresses and we feel that this is the ideal starting point for him. If he gets home, the King George is a possible target.
"It's fantastic to have him and we couldn't be any happier with him."
Loosen My Load heads the line up for the Buck House Novice Chase as he returns to the scene of his opening chase win back in May -- also on quick ground.
John Kiely's Head Of The Posse will undoubtedly provide him with a stern, but intriguing test.
Luska Lad is far superior than all of his rivals in the Grade Three Ryan's Cleaning Events Specialists Hurdle even with the ground set to be far from his liking,
Meanwhile, Boylesports this morning handed Punchestown a major boost by announcing their committed sponsorship to the Boylesports.com Champion Chase at the Festival until 2013.
In addition, the Louth-based bookmakers will also sponsor the Boylesports.com Tied Cottage Chase and today offer 4/1 on any horse to win both races this season.