Just Grand at Kempton
Man On The Spot previews Friday afternoon's feature action from the meetings at Kempton Park and Leopardstown.
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SIZING EUROPE won this last year beating Rubi Light just over two lengths but faces a much stiffer task this time. Henry De Bromhead's stable star once again failed to stay 3m in the jnwine at Down Royal but very rarely gets beat at around this trip and is taken to gain his 21st victory on his 40th start. Arvika Ligeonniere is a massive threat as he's looked even better this season after his impressive victory in the Ryanair at Punchestown in April. Ruby Walsh is likely to make this a really stiff test and it will take something special to beat his mount. Kid Cassidy's victory over Sire De Grugy at Cheltenham has been well and truly boosted by the runner-up and though the remainder will need to find more none can be totally ruled out.
A stiffer test might have suited GRANDOUET but Nicky Henderson's classy hurdler is getting 6lb from the three previous winners in this and should be good enough to get off the mark over the larger obstacles. He would probably have caught Hinterland in a Grade 1 at Sandown earlier this month in another few strides. Dodging Bullets and Valdez are both unbeaten over fences. The former impressed here in October and again at Cheltenham last month and looks a high-class novice but the latter may have profited from the fall of Black River at Newbury last time, though does jump well. It's difficult to make a case for the remaining trio in this company.
Moyle Park hasn't achieved as much as some of his rivals but the manner of his victories in bumpers and a maiden hurdle suggest he's very useful and he'll be thereabouts. His stablemate Arctic Fire has much the stronger form over timber having finished a close third to THE TULLOW TANK in the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse. The winner looks an outstanding prospect for chasing one day but the testing conditions will be in his favour and he can complete a hat-trick. The Game Changer is progressing nicely while Gambling Girl was well below her best in the Royal Bond having landed a Grade 3 in fine style previously.
Sire De Grugy is clearly a young chaser going places on the evidence of his four-length defeat of Somersby in the Tingle Creek at Sandown but will still need to find plenty more to lower the colours of SPRINTER SACRE. Nicky Henderson's charge remains unbeaten over fences and it is rare that anything manages to get him off the bridle. Only once has he been allowed to start at odds-against in a chase and he'll be a very short price again here given fitness is unlikely to be an issue, even though he was withdrawn from the Tingle Creek following a bad scope. The remainder are likely to be playing for places with Oiseau De Nuit and Tataniano both behind Sire De Grugy at Sandown. Fago has scope but a mountain to climb at the weights, as has Astracad.