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Cheltenham

  • 15:20 Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase 2m

  • (grade 1) £320,000 added 5yo+ 9 ran
  • Winner: £
  • Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 3m 51.30s
  • Off time: 15:20:24

Big Zeb Romps To Champion Chase Glory

By Tom Peacock, Press Association Sport.   Last Updated: 17/03/10 8:40pm

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Big Zeb - took Cheltenham showpiece.

Big Zeb - took Cheltenham showpiece.

Master Minded was dethroned in the Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase as Big Zeb expunged his fall of 12 months earlier to land the highlight on day two of the Cheltenham Festival.

The Irish raider's career has been blighted by jumping inaccuracies - a claim evidenced a year ago when he was still travelling menacingly well before coming down at the second-last.

But the nine-year-old put in an exhibition round on this occasion to charge home on St Patrick's Day under Barry Geraghty, rider of legendary two-mile chaser Moscow Flyer.

Master Minded was reportedly back to his terrifying best and put himself on course for an attack of Badsworth Boy's hat-trick of wins in the 1980s with a smooth display at Newbury last month.

But Paul Nicholls' odds-on favourite was never travelling with any serious conviction on his return to Prestbury Park.

From the outset nothing went better than Colm Murphy's Big Zeb, who winged the third-last alongside Forpadydeplasterer.

The 4-5 market leader was readily brushed aside by the 10-1 scorer, who pulled six lengths clear of last year's Arkle winner Forpadydeplasterer.

Kalahari King overcame a ragged performance to nail Master Minded by half a length for third.

Murphy has in recent years become a regular at the Festival thanks to Brave Inca's wins in 2004 and 2006.

He said: "It is just great and it is the manner in which he did it as much as anything.

"He has grown up a lot this year and we have learned a lot about him during the last few months.

"Coming here last year really helped him to grow up and to come here and win after Brave Inca is fantastic.

"He is a proper horse this year and was a second-season novice taking on the big boys last spring.

"He wasn't right when he came to Sandown in December and who knows what would have happened last year if he hadn't fallen.

"He takes a lot of knowing and Barry knows him so well.

"They have a great relationship and Barry has so much belief in him.

"He thought we had a good chance of beating Master Minded at Punchestown and he nearly did it.

"He can make silly little mistakes - you can't afford to do it in a race like this - but he was very good today."

No immediate plans were forthcoming from Murphy, but the Kerrygold Champion Chase at Punchestown, in which he ran Master Minded to a head last spring, would be an obvious target.

Geraghty, who partnered Moscow Flyer to two Champion Chase wins in 2003 and 2005, said: "I knew I had enough horse under me and that it would take a good horse to get by me.

"I am not saying he is as good as Moscow Flyer but today was as good as a performance that Moscow Flyer put in."

Forpadydeplasterer was only outgunned heading to the final fence.

His trainer, Tom Cooper, said: "I'm very happy, but I suppose a bit sickened at the same time.

"He did have an interrupted preparation but that's got nothing to do with it as we were very happy with him beforehand.

"He'll definitely go to Aintree or Punchestown now."

Connections of Kalahari King had been predicting a bold run from the Arkle runner-up, but Graham Lee's mount never looked happy and only snatched a place on the run-in.

His trainer, Ferdy Murphy, said: "He landed on top of one of the fences and Graham said he jumped a little bit right, which he has never done before.

"It's well documented that he has problems with his back and we'll have to take him home and check him over.

"If he's OK, I would think he'd go to Liverpool."

Nicholls conceded defeat without offering excuses, but believes the underfoot conditions may have played their part.

He said: "We were beaten fair and square.

"I have been concerned with the drying ground over the last couple of days and he didn't perform at his best.

"He is a big, heavy horse and on ground like this something just stops him from letting himself down.

"He has won two Champion Chases and today we have a new champion - that is what racing is all about."

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