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2:22pm Friday 18th January 2013 in Sport
CALGARY Bay is set to defend his title in the Sky Bet Chase - but a return visit to the John Smith’s Grand National is not on the cards.
A fine performer for Henrietta Knight over the years, he finished 14th over the Aintree fences last season.
Since Knight’s retirement, the gelding is now with Mick Channon and was wel beaten in two outings earlier this winter.
Knight, who works closely with Channon, said: ‘‘He’s going to go to Doncaster for the Sky Bet Chase, which he won last year, just so long as the weather is all right.
‘‘I don’t think he’ll go for the National again. The owners don’t think he quite gets four miles, so he might go for something like the Topham there instead.’’ ANDREW Balding expects Bonfire to be ready for a racecourse comeback in the spring.
A great hope for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing in the Investec Derby after winning the Dante Stakes at York, he was a disappointment at Epsom and then in the Coral-Eclipse.
As he had frequently shown signs of temperament, it was decided Bonfire would be gelded.
‘‘He’s coming back to me next month,’’ said Balding.
‘‘We haven’t seriously thought of a plan but he might run in something like the Earl Of Sefton at Newmarket.’’ HURRICANE Fly, successful in 2011, Binocular (2010) and Punjabi (2009) are the past champions who could try to regain their crown.
Last season it was Rock On Ruby’s turn when he was officially in the hands of Paul Nicholls, but under the supervision of rookie trainer Harry Fry.
And he made an encouraging seasonal reappearance for Fry when third behind fellow Champion hopefuls Zarkandar and Grandouet in the StanJames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.
‘‘Rock On Ruby is still very much on course for the Stan James Champion Hurdle,’’ said Fry.
‘‘He is all set for a prep run at either Sandown on February 2 (Contenders Hurdle) or at Wincanton on February 16 (Kingwell Hurdle), weather permitting, as I’m not sure what the winter is going to bring next.
‘‘He is not going to run on heavy ground between now and Cheltenham.
‘‘If the ground is decent, he will have a prep run but if not, he will have a racecourse gallop instead.’’ SIZING Europe is set to take in either the Tied Cottage Chase or the Hennessy Gold Cup ahead of his fifth trip to the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Although now an 11-yearold, Henry De Bromhead’s stable star has appeared as good as ever in winning his three starts this season, completing the hat-trick with a typically sure-footed round of jumping in the DialA-Bet Chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas period.
De Bromhead remains open-minded about what trip the multiple Grade One winner will be campaigned over this spring, with the two-mile Tied Cottage at Punchestown on February 3 and the three-mile Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown a week later his next couple of options.