Power trip is tough to call
Zeb deserved favourite but can't count chickens with classy pair also in the hunt
It HAs been a strange few weeks in the racing world -- of that there is no doubt.
St Stephen's Day without racing was highly disappointing as it is one of the days of the year we all look forward to the most, but we were back with a bang today and that's all we can ask for really.
Trainers have struggled to keep water unfrozen to give to the horses, let alone get full preparations into them, but that's nature. And their hard graft to earn a living and provide us with this wonderful spectacle should be appreciated now while it lasts, especially if the weather forecasters are right and the big freeze is lining up a return.
Tomorrow's Leopardstown meeting is a very intriguing eight-race card with an early 11.50 start and the fixture will see the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Big Zeb take on a small field in his attempt to win the feature Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase for a second time after winning the race two years ago.
To do so, Big Zeb will have to face last year's winner, and recent Fairyhouse victor, Golden Silver who will be at home in the testing conditions, as well as Captain Cee Bee who made a winning seasonal bow to follow on from his win in the Grade One novice chase at Punchestown back in April.
Golden Silver has been a horse who probably escapes under the radar a bit but it must be remembered that he earned over double the prize money of any other horse trained by the champion trainer Willie Mullins last season in winning four of his five starts. He is already up there again this term.
The eight-year-old has yet to make his mark in Cheltenham and two runs there have seen him finish well down the field, beaten 40 lengths and 35 lengths, but around Leopardstown he is unbeaten in two starts, both of which were on ground with an ease in it.
Big Zeb is certainly a class horse though and is impossible to oppose on the basis that he has accounted for Golden Silver on their last three meetings in varying ground, while Captain Cee Bee probably wants it good to be beating the likes of these.
Colm Murphy's Big Zeb is likely to be a short-priced favourite and certainly deserving of that as he will undoubtedly come on for his first run of the season at Navan. But the HRI Horse of the Year wouldn't be the banker of the day and with the likes of Golden Silver and Captain Cee Bee there to make sure he is foot perfect, this may be more of a race to enjoy than to get financially involved in.
3 Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase
1 Big Zeb
2 Golden Silver