Punchestown joy for Sizing
Sizing Europe and Andrew Lynch held off Realt Dubh to bravely win the Boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown.
Henry de Bromhead's 8-13 favourite had to dig really deep in the closing stages in the testing ground as the runner-up threw down a persistent challenge on the run to the last fence.
A good jump there gave the eventual winner a handy advantage which he held up the run-in to claim the Grade 1 prize from the brave runner-up by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
Old rival Big Zeb loomed into contention three from home but had no more to give up the straight and kept on for the third place.
De Bromhead said: "The ground is testing enough and they are finishing tired. Realt Dubh was bearing down on us there at the last and I was getting a bit nervous, but in fairness our lad ground it out and we're delighted.
"He jumped great. Out of that ground he is never going to jump with the same exuberance he does on better ground, but he went and did the job."
The trainer is not ruling out stepping his charge back up in distance at some stage.
He has finished second in the last two renewals of the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal over three miles.
"I've no idea what we'll do at this stage. We're just going to enjoy today and we'll discuss things with Alan and Ann (Potts, owners) over the summer," De Bromhead added.
"He's had an unbelievable season and we'll mull it over and see. He'll be 11 this time next year, so he's getting older. Maybe we'll step him up again, we'll see."
Jockey Andrew Lynch said: "The ground is a bit softer than ideal for him but he has a big heart and he pulled out all the stops.
"He idled up the straight and though he is handling that ground better as he gets older, he is still way better on better ground."