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Somersby switch on cards for Knight

Henrietta Knight will consider switching Somersby from the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase to the Ryanair Chase should conditions dry out appreciably at Cheltenham next week.

The Lockinge trainer has been favouring the two-mile feature for last year's Arkle Trophy runner-up, but has kept Somersby in the Ryanair over an extra five furlongs just in case faster ground prevails.

"We're not ruling the Ryanair out. If it continues to dry we will have to decide nearer the time which race to go for," she said.

"He's in both. If it got dry I did always say, even at Ascot, if it was too dry he would be better over a longer distance for they would go too quick for him over two miles. We are keeping our options open. It's just to let the public know there is a possibility that we are still considering the other race as well as the Queen Mother."

Coral reacted by reintroducing Somersby back into their Ryanair betting at 4-1 while he is 7-1 for the Queen Mother.

Big Zeb is aiming to defend his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown and Colm Murphy is excited by the prospect of seeing him do so.

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.

Owner Clive Smith feels Ruby Walsh's return aboard Kauto Star strengthens his chances of landing a third totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday week.

The Paul Nicholls-trained gelding failed in his bid to claim a record-breaking fifth King George VI Chase, after which he was found to have bled, but it is all systems go as he seeks to capture the blue riband prize at the age of 11.

And with Walsh back in the saddle after having recently returned from injury -- Tony McCoy did the steering at Kempton -- Smith feels Kauto Star could regain the big race for a second time after striking gold in 2007 and 2009.

"We feel that it will be different with Ruby (Walsh) back and the two know each other so well we will have a much more favourable result," Smith said. "As good as Tony McCoy is, he has a different style of riding and I'm very pleased that Ruby is able to get back on Kauto again.

"It would be incredible if he could regain the Gold Cup for a second time.

"I think he's got a great chance."