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Big guns set for Cottage showdown

The two dominant forces in the two-mile chase division are due to clash in Sunday's Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown.

Sizing Europe and Big Zeb have won the last two renewals of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham and look to have this year's race between them once again.

But before their clash in March, they will lock horns on Sunday - although their respective trainers have voiced concerns about the prevailing heavy ground.

Big Zeb's handler Colm Murphy said: "Preparations are going very well. Ideally we would need better ground, but we are going to stick to the same plan as last year.

"We will run on Sunday and then on to Cheltenham and finally back to the Champion Chase at the Punchestown Festival, all going well. Big Zeb is now an 11-year-old, but he can't count so we are all right on that front!"

Henry de Bromhead said of Sizing Europe, who looked better than ever when winning the Tingle Creek at Sandown: "Sizing is in good form. We were delighted with his Tingle Creek run as it is recognised as a true two-mile test.

"We would prefer better ground on Sunday, but we are sticking to the same route as last season."

Having wrestled Big Zeb's crown off him last March, Murphy's stable star then exacted revenge at Punchestown.

"Both horses gave a class performance in the Chase at Punchestown when they were well clear of the field in what was a great race," added De Bromhead.

Only four others - Imperial Shabra, Leanne, Lastoftheleaders and Scotsirish - have been entered against the big two.


From Belfast Telegraph