Harrington happy with Sizing

Sizing John faces a high-class field of 11 rivals in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase on Thursday.

Jessica Harrington's seven-year-old is on the cusp of going 12 months unbeaten and created history by winning Gold Cups at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown.

He made his seasonal debut at Punchestown on December 10 and soundly defeated Djakadam in the John Durkan.

Harrington said: "I've been happy with Sizing John since the John Durkan and this seems a nice spot for him, then we can see what we do after that – I'm just taking each race as it comes.

"There are 12 runners, so it will be fierce competitive, but I think the bigger field might actually help him. We've just got to keep out of trouble.

"The ground looks like being lovely so that will be more in our favour."

Djakadam takes him on again but his stablemate Yorkhill might arguably pose the biggest danger to Sizing John as he steps up in trip to three miles.

Yorkhill has not been seen since he threw away certain victory when he hung violently left in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in April.

"It's a very big ask for Yorkhill on his first start of the season," said Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, Willie.

"Sizing John put up a huge performance in Punchestown. I thought that was probably his best ever performance and he's going to be very hard to beat.

"Yorkhill seems in good form and because he has to go left-handed that cuts down our options considerably in Ireland.

"It's his first run over three miles since his point-to-point days, but his pedigree is all staying and we're hoping this will be a stepping-stone to the Gold Cup.

"We'll have a lot better idea where we stand after tomorrow."

Of Djakadam, Patrick Mullins added: "I don't think he ran up to his best the last day. He didn't really carry Paul (Townend) the whole way.

"We're just hoping that run has blown the cobwebs away and that he'll travel with a bit more enthusiasm.

"I'll be disappointed if he doesn't improve on that run and on his Punchestown Gold Cup run he should be capable of giving Sizing John a race."

Minella Rocco stayed on powerfully to finish second to Sizing John in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and takes his chance for Jonjo O'Neill.

He has, though, never come close before, or since, to matching that level of performance, including when he was pulled up at Cheltenham in November.

O'Neill said: "He was very disappointing at Cheltenham but the ground probably didn't help and he seems in good form.

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"Obviously, long term the Gold Cup is the plan but he will have to show more in Ireland. We are looking forward to a better run."

Minella Rocco's owner JP McManus is also represented by the veteran Carlingford Lough and Edwulf, who collapsed close home in the four-miler at Cheltenham on his last start in March.

There are five runners for Gigginstown House Stud, headed by Noel Meade's Road To Respect who took advantage of Yorkhill's waywardness at Fairyhouse.

Last time out he lost out narrowly to Outlander in the JNwine.com Chase at Down Royal and the pair meet again.

Alpha Des Obeaux, Balko Des Flos and the returning Valseur Lido, who looked sure to win the corresponding race 12 months ago before fading late on, also represent Gigginstown.

Andrew Lynch's Zabana completes the field.

Elliott: Apple's won't be jaded

Gordon Elliott is confident the step up to three miles will not inconvenience Apple's Jade in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on Thursday.

The prolific mare secured her sixth Grade One success with an awesome display in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse earlier this month, after which connections suggested she was likely to be given a break until the new year.

However, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned five-year-old tests the water over three miles for the first time on day three of Leopardstown's Christmas Festival.

"There's not a lot for her if we don't run here until Cheltenham, except a Listed hurdle in Punchestown (in February)," Elliott told At The Races.

"The way she won in Fairyhouse the last day, with another furlong or two she maybe would have won another 10 lengths.

"That 7lb mares' allowance is unbelievable."

Apple's Jade faces six rivals, with Elliott and Gigginstown also represented by Lieutenant Colonel, who claimed this prize in 2014 when trained by the now-retired Sandra Hughes.

Willie Mullins struck gold for the third time in seven years with Vroum Vroum Mag 12 months ago and he is triple-handed with Nichols Canyon, Bapaume and Augusta Kate all declared.

Nichols Canyon is bidding for a ninth victory at Grade One level, but has nine lengths to make up on former Mullins inmate Apple's Jade on the Hatton's Grace form.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: "Apple's Jade is the ghost of Christmas past!

"She put up a performance right out of the top drawer in Fairyhouse. She's stepping up to three miles for the first time, but I can't see that being a problem.

"I don't think Nichols Canyon ran up to his best in Fairyhouse and I'll be disappointed if he can't significantly close the gap, but I don't think Leopardstown is really his track and Apple's Jade is going to be very hard to beat."

Of the other two Closutton representatives, Mullins added: "Augusta Kate didn't travel or jump in the Hatton's Grace (finished sixth). We haven't really found any reason for that and we're hoping she'll improve.

"Bapaume is having his first run of the season and his first run outside of juvenile company. He has a lot to find on ratings and he's taking a big step up in trip. It's a bit of a fact-finding mission with him."

Jessica Harrington fires a twin assault, with former Champion Hurdle hero Jezki returning to three miles after being blown away by Faugheen in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month.

The Moone-based trainer also saddles Supasundae, who claimed Cheltenham Festival glory in the Coral Cup in March.

Harrington said: "Jezki will certainly appreciate going back up in trip, but saying that, so will Supasundae.

"The ground is a big thing for both of them and it looks like it will be perfect, so we'll see how they get on."

Supasundae finished 11 lengths behind Apple's Jade when third on his return in the Hatton's Grace, but jockey Robbie Power is hopeful he can close the gap.

He said: "I'm really looking forward to riding him. I thought he ran a great race in the Hatton's Grace. He took a blow at the back of the third-last and then lost his position when he got badly hampered turning in, but when he filled himself, he really stayed on again.

"He was flying home and if he hadn't have got hampered, he would have been a good second to Apple's Jade.

"I was a bit disappointed when I read Apple's Jade was going to run, but that's the way it is and with if we get better ground that will play to his advantage."

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