Tuesday 20 March 2018

Sizing it up

De Bromhead star and Big Zeb set for Queen Mother rematch

SIZING EUROPE and Big Zeb, the first two home in the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase last year, are on course for a rematch at Cheltenham next Wednesday.

The respective 2011 and 2010 winners are among 10 horses left in the two-mile feature at the confirmation stage. Sizing Europe followed up his win in the 2010 Arkle Trophy by defeating Big Zeb by five lengths last year.

And Henry de Bromhead's stable star got the better of his old rival by 15 lengths in the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown last month. However, Colm Murphy is expecting a better performance from Big Zeb next week.

Willie Mullins has left in the progressive Blazing Tempo, who completed a hat-trick of victories at Fairyhouse, while the Noel Meade-trained Realt Dubh is the other Irish possible.

Heading the home brigade is the Nicky Henderson-trained Finian's Rainbow, who chased home Captain Chris in last year's Arkle.

He was caught close to the finish by Somersby in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot last time.

Somersby is, however, more likely to take his chance in the Ryanair Chase on Thursday, unless there is plenty of cut in the ground.

Others standing their ground are Wishfull Thinking, Gauvain, Kauto Stone and I'm So Lucky.

The withdrawn horses were I'msingingtheblues, Jewson Novices' Chase-bound Peddlers Cross, Nacarat and Hold Fast.

Boston Bob and Simonsig are the two standout names in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham next Wednesday, for which 34 horses have stood their ground.

Willie Mullins has still not made his mind up over whether Boston Bob runs in this race over two miles and five furlongs, or in the Albert Bartlett next Friday over three miles.

Mullins has a number of other possibles, including Felix Yonger, Make Your Mark, Marasonnien, Simenon and Sous Les Cieux.

Simonsig was given the green light for this race after Nicky Henderson chose the Neptune in preference to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle on the first day. Noel Meade's Monksland is still engaged in the Supreme, but is thought more likely to run in the longer race.

Batonnier, Tony Martin's Grade One winner Benefficient, Mount Benbulben and The Druids Nephew are others of note.

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