Big Zeb dispels Murphy's worries in brave fashion.
THE worries about the lack of a previous run for Big Zeb proved unfounded as Colm Murphy's seven-year-old registered his second Grade 1 success in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase.
The 2m1f event was run at a decent clip, with 2006 Champion Chase winner Newmill and Watson Lake disputing the lead until the race began to unfold towards the end of the back straight.
First of the principals to crack was British challenger Natal. The well-backed favourite blundered badly at the thirdlast after taking over up front two fences earlier.
This left Thyne Again and 5-1 shot Big Zeb to forge on, with rider Matt O'Connor pulling double on the latter rounding the home turn.
Big Zeb edged to the front travelling well but needed to pull out all the stops from the last as Watson Lake conjured up a late rally in the hands of Paul Carberry.
Big Zeb pulled out that bit more and had half a length to spare at the line with another four and a half lengths back to Thyne Again in third.
"He was a store horse last year but he's far more the finished article this season," said Murphy, who intends giving the son of Oscar an entry in both the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
"Physically he's more mature after some niggly muscle problems, but the lack of a run was a worry.
"I'd like to think he'll improve and I'd imagine he'll have one more run before Cheltenham."
The winner was cut to 12-1 (from 16) for the Ryanair by Stan James, and to 14 (from 20) by Boylesports.
Murphy also spoke highly of stable jockey O'Connor, who was landing his first Grade 1 success. The trainer said: "Matt has improved no end. I'm delighted with him."
Paul Carberry said of the runner-up: "My horse was trying to get there, but the winner picked up again."
1 Big Zeb 5-1
2 Watson Lake 8-1
3 Thyne Again 100-30
Patrick Joseph Redmond
Trainer Colm Murphy
Jockey Matt O'Connor
Groom James Kirwan
Breeder Lyle Buttimer
Distances 1/2l, 41/2l
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Dec 28, 2008|
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