Tote Win: £2.20 Tote Place: £1.50,2.70
Straight Forecast: £6.77 Exacta: £6.80 Trifecta: £41.90 Swingers: 1&2:2.30 2&3:7.80 1&3:3.20
Jackpot: £33,106.10, Pool: £46628.37, 1.0 winning tickets
Placepot: £21.80, Pool: £130523.61, 4362.92 winning tickets
Quadpot: £9.70, Pool: £8757.63, 667.75 winning tickets
SIZING EUROPE is the world's best two mile chaser on decent ground, and with conditions just about in his favour here, he put in a commanding performance with a comfortable success over Kauto Stone. Andrew Lynch was content to let the nine-year-old just track the early pace as Wishfull Thinking went off like a scalded cat (again). In the main he jumped extremely well, although a slow leap at the first Railway Fence was made to look worse by Kauto Stone's flying leap. Moving smoothly into a share of the lead after that sequence, the pair moved clear before the home turn and class started to tell. As Kauto Stone came under pressure, Lynch was still motionless on Sizing Europe and kicked him into a clear lead before the last. A good leap at the final fence sealed the win and he was far enough clear of the staying-on runner-up for supporters to have no fears (has seemed to idle a bit in the past). He was predictably cut for Cheltenham and it's hard to see a horse lowering his colours in the Champion Chase if the ground is good. Soft ground was deemed a requisite for Kauto Stone, but following the injury to stablemate Tataniano, he was always going to run here. And what a run he put in. Swift at his fences once again, he just found the pace a bit too quick turning in before staying on again after the last. This was a fine performance from the five-year-old and he was just unlucky to bump into such an admirable rival. The options over his optimum trip of 2m4f are not great, but a return to Ireland for something like the John Durkan (although it comes up quickly) could be on the cards where he is more likely to get his preferred going. Longer term the Ryanair would be more obvious than the Champion Chase, unless the Festival is run in a quagmire, with the Powers Gold Cup at Easter another feasible aim. Cornas was third, and has a smashing Sandown record. He benefitted from the frantic early gallop and slowly worked his way into the race, plugging on having been outpaced when the big boys kicked on. Although never looking like finishing better than third, he's a solid way to measure the form and should win again this season when his sights are lowered. I'msingingtheblues also stayed on nicely, and is another who just helps to highlight the mid-race speed which the top horses have, and the rest struggle to live with, before often finding their feet again. Wishfull Thinking, some 22 lengths further back, came next and is having something of a mid-career crisis. He looked fantastic last season but has been far too keen in his two starts and won't win an egg and spoon race if he continues like this. Connections should look to hold him up last next time and see if that does the trick, because if it does then he's still a major Ryanair player. Fix The Rib was outclassed, whilst Gauvain fell at the first Railway Fence, the eighth in total, before the race had started in earnest.