Paul Ferguson fancies the chances of Big Zeb (1.50 Punchestown) and King’s Lodge (4.25 Fakenham) on Sunday
Plenty of big names were on trial for the Festival at Cheltenham yesterday and this afternoon it’s the turn of Queen Mother Champion Chaser Big Zeb (1:50) who should win the Tied Cottage at Punchestown for a second successive season.
He has proven he is the best 2m chaser in Ireland when winning both starts this season and, considering his best performance on home soil last term came in this race, the 4/5 on offer with Hills looks a fair price for favourite backers.
Nicky Henderson’s incredible month continues and the trainer has a 63% strike-rate (5 winners from 8 runners) in bumpers at Fakenham in the past five seasons.
With improvement expected from debut Kings Lodge (4:25) is fancied to enhance that impressive record in the concluding contest of the day, with the form of his Bangor run looking strong in the context of this race.
The third and sixth (who beat Dineur) have won since, whilst runner-up, Raya Star, probably would have won for this column on Friday, but for coming down at the penultimate flight.
1:50 Punchestown: Big Zeb
4:25 Fakenham: Kings Lodge
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Last year’s selections included:
Hurricane Fly: 3/1 winner of the G1 Rabobank Champion Hurdle
Copper Bleu: 12/1 winner of the Jewson at Cheltenham
Great Endeavour: 18/1 winner of the Festival Plate
Tranguil Sea: 11/2 winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup
Sizing Europe: 6/1 winner of the Arkle
Weapon’s Amnesty: 10/1 winner of the RSA Chase