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Bookies have Zeb's nose in front

Sponsors Boylesports go 11/10 about Big Zeb to claim Sunday's mouth-watering Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown.

He is due to face 11/4 shot Golden Silver, who is yet to beat Big Zeb, and last year's Cheltenham Arkle victor, Sizing Europe (4/1), as he reverts back to 2m for Henry de Bromhead.

Interestingly, bookmakers Paddy Power are far more convinced about Big Zeb's superiority as they make him odds on at 10/11 to take the Grade Two honours on the way back to Cheltenham, with Sizing Europe next best at 100/30 and Golden Silver 7/2.

Punchestown are buzzing ahead of the clash and with a great supporting card are hopeful of a big crowd at the Co Kildare venue on Sunday where the ground is currently soft and hopes are that the frost will bypass the home of Irish jump racing.

Meanwhile, as entries reopened for Friday's rescheduled Thyestes Chase meeting at Gowran Park, all the market principals stood their ground as a similar field looks like being declared tomorrow morning as on the previous two occasions declarations were taken.

There was a significant, but unsurprising, absentee from the Grade Two Galmoy Hurdle as Shark Hanlon's Luska Lad, a recent purchase by prominent owner Batty Connell, is set to bypass Friday's meeting in favour of Gowran's next meeting where he is likely to face the returning Dunguib.


"We're not going to go for the Galmoy, we're going for the Red Mills," said an in-form Hanlon.

"We know he's a good horse over two miles and two-and-a-half miles, but Barry and I have decided to go for the Red Mills and then go to Liverpool.

"He won't go to Cheltenham."

Trainer Mouse Morris has confirmed that his Grade One-winning novice hurdler First Lieutenant will be entered in all three novice races at the Cheltenham Festival and won't be seen until the Festival in March.

"He'll go to Cheltenham next and won't run beforehand," Morris said.

"I just wouldn't like to be tied down to which race yet. He'll have entries in all three novice races."

He added: "He's by Presenting so he's obviously better on better ground.

"He certainly doesn't want it as soft as the last day.

"We won't be going for the fresh air anyway.

"I think we'll only be sending him, China Rock (Gold Cup) and four-year-old Tillahow."