HENRY DE BROMHEAD has confirmed Sizing Europe will not run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The ten-year-old has looked as good as ever in winning his two starts this season and connections remain keen to test the multiple Grade One winner over three miles on a sound surface.
However, with conditions likely to be testing at Kempton next week, Sizing Europe is set to instead head to Leopardstown for either the twomile- one-furlong Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase or the Lexus Chase over three miles.
With rain continuing to fall over most of Britain and Ireland, it would seem the shorter race is his most likely target.
De Bromhead said: ‘‘We said at the start of the season we’d love to try him over three miles on better ground, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get that at the moment.
‘‘Sometimes you do at Kempton on Boxing Day, but unfortunately we won’t this year.
‘‘He has the two options at Leopardstown and we’ll leave him in both races , but the way the weather is going at the moment, I would imagine he’ll probably run in the twomile race.’’ Another Irish-trained horse ruled out of the Boxing Day feature is First Lieutenant.
Mouse Morris scratched his Hennessy Gold Cup third from the Kempton Grade One on Wednesday and he will instead head for the Lexus on December 28.
Morris plans to saddle China Rock in the same race, his first appearance since claiming the Punchestown Gold Cup in the spring.
‘‘He’s in great form, but we’ve decided to stay at home with him,’’ said the trainer.
‘‘Leopardstown will be as good a ground as we’ll get over Christmas, so we’ll go there and see what happens.
‘‘China (Rock) will be there as well. I’m very happy with him at the moment.’’ Fifteen horses remain in the King George following the latest confirmation stage.
They are headed by the Nicky Henderson-trained Long Run, second to Kauto Star 12 months ago, but the winner at a rescheduled renewal the previous season.
Stable companion Riverside Theatre, runner-up to Long Run that day, has also stood his ground, while Henderson also has the 2012 Champion Chase victor Finian’s Rainbow.
Philip Hobbs is represented by last season’s third Captain Chris, Menorah and Wishfull Thinking.
David Pipe has supplemented Rehearsal Chase winner Junior and has left in Grands Crus, who would be having his first run since undergoing a wind operation.
Colin Tizzard has a leading contender in Cue Card, while David Bridgwater’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster and Martin Keighley’s Champion Court also feature.
Kauto Stone, half-brother to five-times King George hero Kauto Star, is Paul Nicholls’ only entry after the defections of the injured Al Ferof and the ill-fated Cristal Bonus.
Sir Des Champs, from Willie Mullins’ stable, is the only Irishtrained possible. Hunt Ball and For Non Stop complete the list of possible runners.
Jockey Joe Tizzard is confident Cue Card, winner of the Haldon Gold Cup on his seasonal reappearance, will get the trip as he steps up to three miles for the first time.
‘‘I gave him a school on Monday morning. It was the first time I’d sat on him since Exeter and he felt superb,’’ he told At The Races. ‘‘He’s just ticking over to the race now.
He’s done all his work and seems in good nick.
‘‘He’s won on all sorts of ground, but he’s going into an unknown trip.
‘‘The more rain, the more stamina is going to come into use for the King George, but I’m confident he’ll get the trip and he’ll handle the ground.’’