Realt Dubh On Course for Festival Comeback
Defending champion Sizing Europe is one of 10 horses to stand their ground in the £320,000 sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.20pm), the feature on Ladies Day at The Festival, Wednesday, March 14, following today’s six-day confirmation stage.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained 10-year-old was an emphatic five-length winner of the two-mile chasing championship last season and this year he will be bidding for his third consecutive success at The Festival after taking the Racing Post Arkle Chase in 2010. He has been in fine form this season, winning three of his four starts including last time out when he slammed his old rival Big Zeb by 15 lengths in the Grade Two Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on February 5. Prior to that he had put the cream of the British two-mile chasers in their place with an imperious eight-length victory in the Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in early December. Sizing Europe is priced at Evens by the race sponsor to win again.
Despite that defeat at Punchestown last time, Big Zeb has also been in good form this season, claiming his third Fortria Chase at Navan in November before adding a sixth Grade One to his CV when readily beating Noble Prince in the Grade One Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. He will be chasing a second victory in the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase after capturing the prize in 2010.
Meade, based in Co Meath, said: “Realt Dubh is currently 50-50 to run in either the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase or the Ryanair Chase. I am not sure yet, but we think he is in great shape and he seems well. We have been really pleased with his work - he worked at Navan on Monday and we were very happy with him.
“He had a bit of a setback before Christmas, which took him some time to get over and it held us up so we haven’t had time to run him.
“We have often wondered if he would get the full two miles and five furlongs around Cheltenham, hence why he is in the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase as well. We are still very much open minded about it and it would also depend on what is going to run in both races.
“I think better ground suits him better. He is a very decent horse - he won three Grade Ones last season so he is a good horse.”
The British challenge could be headed by Somersby, who finally gained his first Grade One success when fighting off Finian’s Rainbow in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot in January. Finian’s Rainbow, who finished second in last season’s Racing Post Arkle Chase, had made a successful reappearance at Kempton in the Grade Two Desert Orchid Chase over Christmas, where he narrowly got the better of Wishfull Thinking.
Kauto Star’s half-brother Kauto Stone is still engaged despite a disappointing effort in the Betfair Ascot Chase last time, but prior to that he had put up a decent performance behind Sizing Europe in the Tingle Creek Chase, when beaten eight lengths.
Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins may run Blazing Tempo, the only mare left in, after her success in the Grade Two Normans Grove Chase at Fairyhouse on January 22. The confirmations are completed by Gauvain and the David Pipe-trained I’m So Lucky.
Sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)
Going: Good, Good to Firm in places
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