Europe rocked by fine China
Punchestown kicked off their season with a bang over the last two days and the Mouse Morris trained China Rock was one of the highlights. He landed yesterday's feature race, beating Arkle hero Sizing Europe in the process.
A race Morris won twice with War Of Attrition, China Rock emerged with flying colours under the most expected of positive rides from his pilot Ruby Walsh.
With Sizing Europe trying an extended trip with an eye at the long-distance chasers later this season, Walsh made every post a winning one and barring a mistake at the last fence with a circuit to go, he was a likeable sort.
"We knew my lad was guaranteed to stay and was fit, so you have to play to your strengths," Walsh explained afterwards. "He jumped well apart from the last with a circuit to go and we learned a bit about each other at that. He is making good progress and making the running was far from ideal for him."
Morris admitted that he watched the race from the last fence and joked afterwards, "I need a new pair of trousers!" after watching the seven-year-old son of Presenting make that aforementioned mistake.
"He was good, and we will look at the Charlie Hall or the James Nicholson in Down Royal," he added.
Henry de Bromhead was happy with his Cheltenham Festival winning stable star and while keen not to make any rash decisions, he doesn't expect to be shelving plans to keep Sizing Europe at the longer distances.
"I thought he ran well and Ruby gave the winner a fantastic ride, he was always going to test our fitness and stamina. But I thought he (Sizing Europe) stayed at it well and that is positive," de Bromhead said.
"I was happy, but I could have been happier! I thought he ran on well and that was his first run since the end of April. My immediate reaction would be to keep him at 3m."
The colours of Alan and Ann Potts, which have been made famous by Sizing Europe, could well become very evident once more in the novice chasing division as Loosen My Load made it three from three over fences yesterday.
Henry de Bromhead's smashing six-year-old jumped for fun yet again to maintain his unbeaten record over fences and oblige at odds of 1/4 under Andrew Lynch.
"I'm delighted, that was great and he jumped great. Andrew said he should improve again as he took a bit of a blow turning in," said the Waterford trainer.
"I'm very pleased and there is a race over two miles in Cheltenham in November as you'd imagine you'd have good ground there, although with our wonderful new weather you never know! There is a race here for him on the same day."
Shark Hanlon had schooled his flag bearer Luska Lad over fences and toyed with that idea, but the Flemensfirth gelding won his sixth race over hurdles yesterday and 10th in all for the Magestic Syndicate and will now head to Down Royal in search of another. The six-year-old was far superior than any of his four rivals on ratings and, as his trainer admitted, he was, "entitled to do that" as he was eased down to beat Der Spieler by two-and-a-half lengths.
"I had schooled him over fences so I was worried he might jump them too big, but he jumped well," said the winning trainer.
"Andrew said he handled the good ground but he would be better on softer ground. All credit to the staff and management here though for producing beautiful ground."
Ruby Walsh instigated the double he completed on China Rock by shining at his very best on Inspector Clouseau in the opening maiden hurdle, while Edward O'Grady's Staying Article looks a very nice prospect following his bumper debut.