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Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Billy Blakeman ValueChecker

Somersby to Win the Queen Mother on Wednesday
15/03/11

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is of course the highlight of the Wednesday and after today, the dividing line between those who think Master Minded is a true great and those who think that he is perhaps a waning power, will be breached on one side or the other. I am not going to copy down the formbook here but a record of 11-wins from his last 14 including two Champion Chases is evidence enough that one could reasonably tell the detractors to be quiet. Last year of course, it all went astray and Big Zeb went on to victory as Master Minded toiled home in fourth. In addition, an eased down victory looked assured at Ascot in January but Somersby closed to within half a hair and plenty were alarmed by that.

 

Somersby
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Somersby

My personal view is that he won well enough off what AP himself called a poor ride and I backed him for this straight afterwards as the bookies pushed out the price. As we approach the race, I am neither for or against really. There just doesn’t seem to be that air of excitement that once followed the horse and after such an early rise to prominence, he is certainly not improving at the age of eight.

Big Zeb, once a servant rather than a master of his fences, appears to have put all that behind him and there is no doubting he was impressive a year ago. Since then, he has been playing with Golden Silver in the same way that Hurricane Fly played with Solwhit, although Willie Mullins' valuably named chaser headed his rival on the line at Punchestown last time. Connections happy, everything going well and no reason to be against him but at the age of ten, he is just outside the usual winning age range and again, I could take him or leave Big Zeb at the price.

One can’t sit on every fence though and as I am not overly keen on the front two, it is necessary to find something else to carry my money. Those honours are going to be given to SOMERSBY to put the sadly regressive yard of Henrietta Knight back on the big stage.

Choc Thornton has been entrusted with the steering and Somersby is entitled to be considered improving, having achieved new highs in his last two races. Connections had toyed with the Ryanair and it is quite possible hr finds this trip short enough but he travels notably well when on song and the fact that he has been placed in the last two festivals is a major plus. Lot’s to like and although I suppose the sensible option is to go each-way, I am going to go all out and back Somersby at 8/1 for the outright win.

 

Recommendation: Somersby

 

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