- Horses to Follow


Two horses that should be winning at Cheltenham next March are Sizing Europe and Al Ferof, with West End Rocker definitely one for the Grand National next April.

Sizing Europe

  • Reigning 2 mile champion chaser Sizing Europe (IRE) laid down the gauntlet to potential rivals with a high class performance in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown earlier this month. He travelled powerfully under Andrew Lynch and jumped with his usual zest and accuracy. Taking over the lead four out he readily outpaced Kauto Stone and galloped up the hill to win by eight lengths. Trainer Henry De Bromhead was justifiably proud of his five time Grade 1 winner who carries Alan & Ann Potts silks and commented; “He was a bit slow at the second down the back and I got a bit worried, but then he was brilliant and just winged the fences. He then did his normal thing where whenever the others start struggling he starts cantering. He is an amazing horse. The plan is to give him a break now and bring him back for a run before Cheltenham.”
  • It was Sizing Europe’s 13th win and for jockey Andrew Lynch he must be a very special horse. Lynch has partnered the 9yo twelve times, winning seven and placed five times, with two of those wins including an Arkle and a Queen Mother Champion Chase. Sizing Europe also has the distinction of being a Grade 1 winner both over hurdles and fences. He was bred by Angela Bracken and was bought as a foal by Hugh Bleahen in Tattersalls Ireland for €9,000. It was an inspired purchase by Bleahen as on pedigree alone he had little to recommend him. At the time there wasn’t a winner in the first two generations of his family but his physique and attitude obviously made up for his lack of lineage. His dam Jennie Dun has also proved her worth in the meantime by producing The Spoonplayer, a useful horse and former stable-mate of Sizing Europe. With Big Zeb having proved his wellbeing at Navan last month the scene should hopefully be set for a fantastic rematch next March between the two top class speed chasers.

Al Ferof 

  • The other Grade 1 at Sandown, The Henry VIII Novice Chase was won by former Irish point to pointer Al Ferof. Paul Nicholls charge jumped nimbly and showed great courage up the hill to repel For Non Stop by a neck. Al Ferof beat subsequent Grade 1 winner Minella Class (IRE) in a 4yo maiden in Athlacca in May 2009 when trained by Liz Doyle. Racegoers at Athlacca that day hardly thought they were watching future Grade 1 winners fighting out the finish but such is the strength in depth of Irish point to points in recent years.  

West End Rocker

  • The other horse to catch the eye recently was Alan King’s West End Rocker (IRE) and he looks to have a live Grand National contender. He jumped the big Grand National fences like a pro and sauntered home well clear in the Listed Becher Chase at Aintree. Unlucky when brought down in last seasons Grand National West End Rocker has all the qualities required in a potential ‘National’ winner and no doubt his season will be geared towards Aintree in early April. He was bred by Phyllis Kidd who sold him as a foal in Tattersalls Ireland for only €2,000. His sire Grand Plaisir is also the sire of another good staying chaser in Exmoor Ranger and he stands in Slyguff Stud in County Carlow for a bargain covering fee of €300. West End Rocker has been a fantastic money spinner for owners Barry Winfield and Tim Leadbeater with Saturday’s victory pushing his earnings well past the £100,000 mark. Irish bred horses have such a fantastic record in the Grand National with 9 of the last 10 winners bred in Ireland. 

Taken from ITM