Sizing Europe beats Big Zeb at Punchestown
Sizing Europe is hot favourite to win a second straight Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham after a 15-length defeat of Big Zeb at Punchestown.
The 10-year-old, trained by Henry de Bromhead, beat the 2010 champion chaser with ease in the Tied Cottage Chase.
Jockey Andrew Lynch took Sizing Europe to the front after the first fence and was never headed after that.
The 9-10 favourite went clear after Big Zeb briefly threatened between the last two jumps of the three-runner race.
Sizing Europe, who won the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last time out in December, was quoted as the 5-4 favourite (from 2-1) to retain his Queen Mother title at the Cheltenham Festival on 14 March.
"He's done it well," said Lynch. "The plan was to go out and enjoy it and use his jumping.
"I wanted to use his big stride and, al though the ground was tacky, he's getting stronger now and handles it better.
"He should improve for that. He hasn't run since the Tingle Creek."
Big Zeb's trainer Colm Murphy said jockey Robbie Power was never happy with the horse.
"He said he was always niggling just to keep in touch," said Murphy.
"In fairness, the winner was very good - he's gone a proper gallop on heavy ground. We'll improve for the run, but we'll have to."