herald

Monday 20 November 2017

Punchestown Sizing up frost covers

PUNCHESTOWN don’t envisage any major concerns ahead of Saturday’s Boylesport.com Tied Cottage Chase, despite a possibility of frost and some snow forecast over the coming days.

Queen Mother Champion Chase winners Sizing Europe and Big Zeb are on course to do battle in what will be their final run before returning to Cheltenham, and Richie Galway,

racing manager at Punchestown, told the Herald that he expected to make a decision on whether or not to use frost covers.

“We are due to get a few nights of severe frost between now and Friday so we will make a call later today,” he said.

“I am just waiting for some more clarity about the forecast as they’re saying it is going to become milder on Friday night and into Saturday.”

Galway admitted that they are more likely to use the covers than leave them off, despite the small risk of rain and snow over the weekend that could make removing them difficult.

“There is some rain and snow due on Friday, which could make it difficult to remove the covers. However, I would be more concerned about the frost running into the weekend and that making life more difficult for us if we didn’t put the covers down.

“The bottom line is if we are laying the covers, we must do it today, before the first frost gets into the ground.

“If the frost gets into the ground and the temperatures don’t rise over the weekend, well, then we could have a slight worry.”

On the plus side of things, the track is eagerly awaiting the mouth-watering duel between Sizing Europe and Big Zeb in a two-mile Grade Two contest in which Big Zeb was second last year and Sizing Europe third, behind the ill-fated Golden Silver.

Testing

“We have had 37mm of rain over the weekend, so obviously the ground is heavy and it’s going to be very testing,” added Galway. “But I spoke to both Henry de Bromhead and Colm Murphy last night, and they are both intended runners, so we’ve two Champion Chasers and that’s as good as it gets.”

De Bromhead told the Herald today that Sizing was in good form. He added: “We were delighted with his Tingle Creek run as it is recognised as a true two-mile test.

“Obviously, we would prefer better ground on Sunday, but we are sticking with the same route as last season.”

Colm Murphy echoed similar views about Big Zeb, saying: “Preparations are going very well. Ideally, we would need better ground but we are sticking to the same plan as last year.

“We will run on Sunday and then on to the Festival and finally back to the Boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown, all going well.”

Meanwhile, the Fairyhouse track was today described as heavy but raceable for Saturday’s scheduled meeting.

The track had been unraceable when entries closed yesterday, so the situation will be monitored

throughout the week.

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