Zeb glee at Leopardstown
Colm Murphy's Big Zeb reaffirmed his position as the best two-mile chaser in Ireland with success in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown.
Last season's Queen Mother Champion Chase hero returned to action for the current campaign with a smooth win at Navan from Golden Silver and faced his old adversary yet again.
Golden Silver's stablemate Scotsirish set a decent gallop up front but some massive leaps from Big Zeb saw him join that rival two out. Another impressive jump at the last from Barry Geraghty's mount sealed the race, and despite idling on the run-in he still had a length and three-quarters in hand over Golden Silver.
Captain Cee Bee was fourth all of the way.
Murphy said: "He'll go next for the Tied Cottage at Punchestown and then back to Cheltenham for the Champion Chase. Hopefully we can keep him ticking over between now and then.
"We were easy on him after Navan and he missed some work leading up to this race due to the weather. Barry said that you'd know he missed that work in the closing stages.
"He jumped really well and is settling a lot better now. Maybe he's just getting a bit of sense, but he's a lot more laid-back, both at home and in his races."
Geraghty added: "Nicky (Henderson) had a big team of horses going to Newbury, including Punchestowns, but AP (McCoy) was free to ride him so it all worked out well in the end.
"He had beaten the other two but he hadn't met Captain Cee Bee before and his form was good We'd beaten Golden Silver before and when I gave him a squeeze turning in and jumped the last well the race was over. He just idled a little and got tired but I was fairly sure he'd win if he jumped round.
"He doesn't mind a small field. I just wanted to settle and jump and he settles a lot better this year. He would have had a tough race so he'll probably take a little bit to recover. It's a good prize in its own right. Everyone wants to win at Cheltenham but this was a great prize."