Saturday 25 February 2017

Zeb d-day looms large for Murphy

Big Zeb winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham. Photo: Getty Images
Big Zeb winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham. Photo: Getty Images

Colm Murphy is excited by the prospect of seeing Big Zeb defend his sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase crown a week on Wednesday.

Despite his defeat to Golden Silver in the Tied Cottage Chase, Murphy thinks a return to a faster surface will see the 10-year-old in a different light.



Even though Murphy has only been training just over 10 years, he is no stranger to Cheltenham success, having won a Supreme Novices' and a Champion Hurdle with the indomitable Brave Inca.



And he will be drawing on that experience as the meeting gets closer.



"I can't wait to see him back on some nice ground, he loves it," said Murphy.



"He's a different horse on better ground, absolutely.



"I don't know if there's any more pressure going into the race this year as the champion. It's nice pressure.



"It was the same with Brave Inca, it's nice to be in this position."



Big Zeb is a general 3-1 chance to win back-to-back renewals behind 9-4 favourite Master Minded, who is going for a third win in the race.

Master Minded was only fourth 12 months ago after winning the two previous runnings of the Queen Mother, and his owner Clive Smith has the utmost respect for the Irish raider.



"Big Zeb is a very talented horse and if the going gets better it will suit Big Zeb more. We'll be doing very well to see him off and beat him, but I hope that we will," he told At The Races.



Somersby, meanwhile, got to within a short head of Master Minded in the Victor Chandler Chase over two miles and a furlong at the Berkshire track in January.



"Somersby is a very talented horse," added Smith.



"I've always liked him, and he is very much a serious contender - though two miles might be a touch on the short side for him.



"But there's no doubt he's got plenty going for him and is a very capable horse.



"We did well to beat him and it was very sticky ground at Ascot that day.



"It will be better ground this time."

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