Lynch put in a superb ride on Sizing Europe to earn victory
By Frank Keogh at Cheltenham
Sizing Europe earned a brilliant victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on an excellent second day for the Irish at the Festival.
The 2010 Arkle Chase winner, trained by Henry de Bromhead, was foot perfect under a bold ride from Andrew Lynch as he won from last year's champion Big Zeb and Captain Cee Bee, also trained in Ireland.
Victory for the 10-1 chance was the fourth triumph from the opening four races for Irish-trained runners and they went on to win the following two races before the Philip Hobbs-trained Cheltenian won the concluding bumper to end their hopes of making it seven out of seven.
Master Minded, the 2008 and 2009 champion, was sent off favourite for the Champion Chase under Ruby Walsh but a late blunder scuppered any chance he had.
Sizing Europe had been running over longer trips earlier in the season, and had finished second behind dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kauto Star over three miles at Down Royal in November.
De Bromhead was trying to establish if his chaser would be suited to the extended three mile, two furlongs of the Gold Cup.
But he opted to bring the nine-year-old back to two miles, and he savoured the drop in distance.
Big Zeb threatened to challenge at one stage, but Sizing Europe charged up the Cheltenham hill to win by five lengths.
The winner was made a 4-1 favourite to win the Champion Chase again in 2012, although he is a 16-1 shot for the Gold Cup.
De Bromhead said: "He's a good horse to have around and it's been an unbelievable week.
"I'm very lucky to have good horses. This fellow was electric and Andrew gave him a brilliant ride again. The horse is amazing and we have a great team behind us."
Lynch added: "I'm delighted and the horse jumped an awful lot better today.
"He travelled really well and I was afraid something might just quicken past me up the straight, but he's a hardy boy.
"Henry always said he wanted a strongly-run, two-mile race, and this is the only race all year that suits him."
The Irish bandwagon began rolling in the first when Chicago Grey landed the four-mile National Hunt Chase for Gordon Elliott, who trained 2007 Grand National winner Silver Birch.
It was a first Cheltenham Festival success for both Elliott and amateur jockey Derek O'Connor.
Elliott later claimed his second winner of the day when Carlito Brigante, ridden by Davy Russell landed the Coral Cup at odds of 16-1.
First Lieutenant, owned by Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, held off Rock On Ruby to land the Neptune novices' hurdle.
Trainer Mouse Morris is no stranger to Festival success, having guided War of Attrition to victory in the 2006 Gold Cup in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, which is owned by O'Leary.
Earlier, Bostons Angel won the RSA Chase for trainer Jessica Harrington. It was a first victory at the meeting for jockey Robbie Power.
The winner went off at 16-1 in the race, which is often a stepping stone for next year's Gold Cup contenders, despite two Grade One victories.
The seven-year-old beat Jessies Dream by three-quarters of a length, with Wayward Prince only a nose behind in third.
Highly-rated jockey Paul Townend got his first Festival success when What A Charm landed a narrow victory in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
Arthur Moore's 9-1 chance travelled smoothly and came to challenge Kumbeshwar for the lead at the final flight.
The duo engaged in a titanic tussle, but it was What A Charm who emerged victorious by a neck.
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