The nominees for the eighth annual Horse Racing Ireland Awards were announced last Friday, with ‘Sizing Europe’ in contention for the Horse of the Year accolade.
Voted for, like the others, by the Irish Racing Media, the feature award boasts a very competitive and open shortlist including three horses from both National Hunt and Flat Racing.
Trained at Knockeen, County Waterford by Henry De Bromhead, and owned by Alan Potts & Ridden by Andrew Lynch, ‘Sizing Europe’ really came of age as an eight-year-old last spring.
Despite winning the 2008 Irish Champion Hurdle in terrific style, the horse never really delivered on that effort over hurdles but once he switched his attentions to steeple chasing De Bromhead’s charge found his true calling.
Ratting off a quick hat-trick at Punchestown in the autumn, he looked a little fortunate to land the Durkan New Homes Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas when the challenging Captain Cee Bee crashed out at the final fence.
However, ‘Sizing’ proved his undoubted class when delivering a tremendous performance to win the Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham in March. His first attempt out of novice company resulted in a very creditable third in the Boylesports Champion Chase at the Punchestown Festival the following month – his only defeat from six starts last season.
He’s among nine Irish-trained contenders to have stood their ground for the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The other Horse of the Year nominees are Big Zeb, Cape Blanco, Pathfork, Quevega, and Rite of Passage, while well in the running for National Hunt Trainer of the Year is Waterford Racecourse director Willie Mullins who dominated the Irish scene and was crowned Champion Trainer for the third consecutive year.
His remarkable achievement in saddling no less than twelve winners at the Punchestown Festival in late April makes him the man to beat.
The various award winners which will be announced at a reception in the Leopardstown Pavilion on December 13th.