The Grade 2 Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on Sunday was billed as a match between Sizing Europe (IRE) and Big Zeb (IRE) and the two best two mile chasers around certainly provided a great spectacle. It was Sizing Europe who stole the show jumping and galloping with his customary flair to come home 15 lengths clear of Big Zeb. Ridden as usual by Andrew Lynch, Sizing Europe is now hot favourite to win back to back Queen Mother Champion Chases at Cheltenham and trainer Henry De Bromhead was understandably thrilled with his stable star commenting; “That was a savage performance, it’s all systems go now for Cheltenham. He is an amazing horse to be involved with. It is great for Irish racing to have two champions running here and this was a stepping stone for both horses - they are usually so close and I’m sure they’ll be a lot closer come Cheltenham!” Although Colm Murphy was disappointed to be beaten so comprehensively he hopes he can get a bit closer to Sizing Europe in five weeks time, saying: “They went a proper gallop on heavy testing ground, hopefully we’ll be better for it.”
Sizing Europe has now won 14 races for Ann & Alan Potts with 5 of those wins coming at Grade 1 level. A winner of an Irish Champion Hurdle also, he has put behind him whatever niggling injuries that prevented him winning a Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. He has matured into a top class, consistent chaser, and must be a joy to be associated with. His clashes with Big Zeb have provided great excitement and let’s hope both get to Cheltenham fighting fit. Both horses are great examples of how top class horses can be bought with a small budget. Both were bought as foals in Tattersalls Ireland, Sizing Europe for €9,000 and Big Zeb for €2,400. Sizing Europe was then bought privately from the Bleahen family while Big Zeb was purchased at Goffs Land Rover Sale by his owner Patrick Redmond. Angela Bracken, breeder of Sizing Europe was honoured with an award at the recent Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Awards night.