The reigning 2 mile Champion Chaser Big Zeb (IRE) made a winning seasonal debut in the Grade 2 Fortria Chase at Navan on Sunday. The Colm Murphy trained 9yo jumped super for Barry Geraghty and he wasn’t extended to beat Golden Silver by a length and a half. Reflecting on a very pleasing comeback Murphy commented; “I'm just happy to get it out of the way. This horse has grown up a lot and he runs well fresh, but that was a perfect comeback on ground we probably shouldn't be running him on. Barry knows him so well at this stage and he knows Barry so well!”
Granted normal luck for Big Zeb it will take a real star to dethrone him of his crown this season. He seems to have ironed out his jumping frailties that have been a slight issue in the past and Colm Murphy seems to have found the key to keeping him fresh. He is a horse of tremendous natural ability and he is a joy to watch in action. Four years ago on his second racecourse run Big Zeb was beaten in a bumper by a certain Captain Ceebee. The following day the Racing Post analyst described the race as a ‘reasonable bumper’; perhaps a slight understatement in light of the achievements of the first and second. A long overdue rematch between the pair could take place at Leopardstown over Christmas, and whatever the outcome Big Zeb will owe connections absolutely nothing having already amassed over €500,000 in prize-money for owner Patrick Redmond. A son of Coolmore stallion Oscar, Big Zeb was bred by Lyle Buttimer and is the 10th foal and by far the highest achieving of the Deep Run mare Our Siveen. He was sold by his breeder as a foal at Tattersalls Ireland for only €2,400. He reappeared in Goffs as a 3yo at the Land Rover Sale and returned a healthy profit when selling to Patrick Redmond for €34,000.