SIZING EUROPE lost his Champion Chase crown to Finian's Rainbow at Cheltenham but bounced back in typical fashion to land the Irish equivalent at Punchestown from today's rival Realt Dubh. He reappeared with another impressive victory over 2m4f at Gowran, the race he won a year ago before finishing runner-up in this for the second time. Connections appear convinced he'll stay three miles and a four-length defeat by Kauto Star in 2010 was hardly a poor run though he was outstayed from the last by Quito De La Roque last year. Slightly quicker ground conditions this time should enable him to last home and finally get a 3m victory under his belt. The winner wasn't seen out again after finishing third behind Synchronised in the Lexus in December and though Paul Nicholls loves this race and believes Kauto Stone will go well, he has yet to prove himself at this level over this trip. First Lieutenant was behind the selection at Gowran last time but badly needed the run and his close second to Bobs Worth in the RSA Chase showed that this should be his trip.
Bob Lingo (IRE) 3-1 (11-2) Attempted to make all, joined approaching straight, headed and no extra from before 2 out, kept on same pace, 3rd of 7, 13l behind Drive Time (11-10) at Listowel 2m 4f hcp hdl hvy in Sep.
Chicago Grey (IRE) 9-1 (11-12) Held up towards rear, behind from 11th, 10th of 19, 38l behind Balthazar King (11-4) at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs (2) gs in Oct.
First Lieutenant (IRE) 7-4 (11-8) Tracked leaders, pushed along 4 out, no impression from next, 4th of 6, 12l behind Sizing Europe (11-10) at Gowran Park 2m 4f chs G2 (1) gd in Oct.
Follow The Plan (IRE) 11-2 (11-10) Chased leader in 4th, in touch 4 out but no extra after next, no threat in straight, 4th of 5, 26l behind Roi Du Mee (11-8) at Punchestown 2m 7f chs Grade 3 (1) hvy in Oct.
Joncol (IRE) Evensfav (11-0) Chased leader in 2nd, driven along approaching straight and tried to challenge 2 out, no impression on winner last and dropped to 3rd closing stages, 3rd of 5, 6l behind Roi Du Mee (11-8) at Punchestown 2m 7f chs Grade 3 (1) hvy in Oct.
Kauto Stone (FR) 12-1 (11-10) Held up mid-division, weakened before 4 out, 7th of 8, 41l behind Finian's Rainbow (11-10) at Aintree 2m 4f chs G1 (1) gd in Apr.
Quito De La Roque (FR) 13-8fav (11-10) Tracked leaders, 4th halfway, 2nd 3 out, slow jump next and driven along in 3rd entering straight, no impression on winner from before last, kept on one pace, 3rd of 9, 11l behind Synchronised (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m chs G1 (1) gd in Dec.
Realt Dubh (IRE) 4-1fav (11-5) Soon mid-division, lost place and dropped towards rear from before 5 out, no impression after next, last of 18, 26l behind Satu (9-9) at Killarney 2m 1f hcp hdl gd in May.
Sizing Europe (IRE) 11-10fav (11-10) Raced 2nd, travelling well entering straight, led before 2 out, went clear before last, stayed on well run-in, easily, won at Gowran Park 2m 4f chs G2 (1) gd in Oct beating Forpadydeplasterer (11-3) by 8l, 6 ran.