BIG ZEB has won this for the past two years before going on to greater glory. He had Forpadydeplasterer 6lb behind when landing last season's Champion Chase at Cheltenham and that's his target again this campaign. The latter hasn't won since May 2009 and threw away another good opportunity when beaten a long way into second by Roi Du Mee at Punchestown a month ago and just can't get his head in front. Noble Prince was unfortunate not to win a Grade 1 last season as he was just a short-head behind Realt Dubh, three times a winner at that level last season, at Leopardstown in January. He has race fitness on his side and should prove a big threat to the champion at this stage of the campaign.
Big Zeb (IRE) 9-4 (11-12) Raced 3rd early, 2nd from 5th, mistake 4 out, close 2nd entering straight, ridden to dispute lead from 2 out, narrowly led at last, rider dropped whip 100yds out, kept on well, won at Punchestown 2m chs G1 (1) gd in May beating Sizing Europe (11-12) by 3/4l, 6 ran.
Noble Prince (GER) 1-3fav (11-10) Tracked leader in 2nd, disputed from halfway, smooth headway to lead after 3 out, cruised clear run-in, unextended, won at Naas 2m chs Grade 3 (1) hvy in Oct beating Jigalo (11-1) by 4 1/2l, 3 ran.
Forpadydeplasterer (IRE) 4-11fav (11-0) Chased leader in 2nd, mistake 3 out, ridden entering straight, no extra from 2 out, kept on same pace (clinically abnormal post race), 2nd of 3, 16l behind Roi Du Mee (11-8) at Punchestown 2m 7f chs Grade 3 (1) in Oct.
Predateur (FR) 12-1 (10-10) Towards rear, 9th approaching straight, soon no impression and kept on same pace, 8th of 11, 25l behind Mahrajaan (10-12) at Gowran Park 2m 2f hcp chs gd in Sep.
Trafford Lad 25-1 (11-10) Held up early, progress into 5th halfway, 3rd 5 out, ridden 2 out, dropped to 5th when bad mistake last, no extra, 6th of 9, 31l behind Kempes (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m chs G1 (1) hvy in Feb.