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Big Zeb is set to hit heights; RACING.

BIG Zeb laid down an early challenge to Master Minded's dominance in the two-mile chase division with a cheeky victory in the Fortria Chase at Navan.

Colm Murphy's charge, beaten just a head by the dual Queen Mother Champion Chase hero in the Kerrygold Champion Chase at Punchestown in April, could not have made a more impressive return to action.

Made In Taipan made a bid for home at the top of the straight but Barry Geraghty tracked him all the way and was still hard on the bridle in the last furlong, easing to the front to score by half a length without being asked a question.

"We'll either go to Sandown (for the Tingle Creek) or for the John Durkan next. We'll see how he comes out of the race," said Murphy.

"I'd have preferred not to run him on this sort of ground but there was nothing else for him and he needed more experience over fences.

"Ground will decide where we'll go next. I think he'll be a stone better on better ground."

Aitmatov and Oscar Looby were on target to provide trainer Noel Meade and jockey Paul Carberry with a 65-1 double.

The former defied top-weight when running out a gritty winner of the Grade Two Lismullen Hurdle.

"That was sweet in so many ways but mainly I'm delighted for the owner John O'Meara who is unwell at the minute. He is one of my best friends and hopefully this will cheer him up," said Meade.

"He'll probably take his chance in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse (November 29) now, he's there to be beaten on heavy ground."

Edward O'Grady and jockey Andrew McNamara managed a short-priced brace through Judge Roy Bean and Osana.

Meanwhile, Notre Pere appears to be none the worse for his fall in the Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday.

The evens favourite was preparing to challenge the all-the-way winner The Listener when crashing out at the fifth last fence.

"He seems fine. We won't really know until midweek," said trainer Jim Dreaper. "We hope it was just one of those things."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 9, 2009
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