With the dark nights now drawing ever closer we are starting to see the first big names of the National Hunt season return to the track after a summer of rest. Perhaps the biggest name to have made his seasonal debut recently was the excellent Sizing Europe who is entering the veteran stage of his glittering career. The Henry de Bromhead horse famously won the Arkle Chase at the Festival in 2010 before returning the following year to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase to write his name into the history books. He was the warm favourite to retain that title last season only to be pipped by Finians Rainbow in one of the most exciting races of the meeting and he is already on target for another crack in 2013. Sizing looked in great form as he cruised to a seven length win in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park over the weekend and all roads lead back to Prestbury Park. He jumped and travelled with his usual style to beat some decent horses in Ireland and there is no sign to suggest his star is on the wane just yet.
The bookmakers were quick to react to that performance at Gowran by trimming Sizing Europe in the Champion Chase betting and he is sure to be there or thereabouts come March. It does however have to be said that Sizing Europe will be 11 by the time the Cheltenham Festival comes around in 2013 and that is likely to count against him in a tough looking race. Finians Rainbow is still likely to be on the scene and another year better while the brilliant Sprinter Sacre is likely to be a Champion Chase contender this season after his Arkle success last season to name just two of his likely opponents. Connections of Sizing Europe will not be scared to take the younger horses on though and already at this early stage the Queen Mother is shaping up to be one of the best races of the Festival in March. There is a chance that the horse will be at Cheltenham even earlier than that though with a run at the Open Meeting next month a possibility for one of the best Festival horses in recent memory.