21 Contenders for sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase
Dual winner Master Minded heads a superb entry of 21 for this year’s £320,000 sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase, highlight of the second day of The Festival, Wednesday, March 16.
The Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old is bidding to become only the second chaser to win the two-mile championship three times, following Badsworth Boy (1983-85), having posted a stunning 19-length success in 2008 and followed up with another authoritative victory 12 months later. Sponsor sportingbet.com makes Master Minded 7/4 favourite to regain his crown.
Master Minded could only finish fourth behind the Colm Murphy-trained Big Zeb in last year’s sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase but Clive Smith’s chaser has looked back to his best this term following a breathing operation, having recorded a pair of facile victories in a Grade Two chase at Ascot and in the Grade One Keith Prowse Hospitality Tingle Creek Chase, which was run at Cheltenham on December 11.
Nicholls, who is chasing a fifth sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase, has also entered the progressive Woolcombe Folly (8/1), who notched an impressive victory in a Cheltenham handicap chase at The International, Grade One winner Tataniano (12/1) and Tchico Polos (50/1).
Big Zeb himself has also been in imperious form this season with a pair of wins over the Willie Mullins-trained Golden Silver (12/1), most recently in the Grade One Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown on December 29, while last year’s The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase victor Sizing Europe (10/1), representing Henry de Bromhead, is also among the eight Irish-trained entries.
Knight commented: “Somersby gets on well at Cheltenham but I don’t know which race he will go for at The Festival at the moment. He is probably more likely to go for the Ryanair Chase as things stand but it all depends on the ground, which other horses are going for the race and what happens between now and then.
“He is either going to run in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot next weekend or he is going to Kempton for a two and a half-mile graduation chase on February 11. We will know more about which Cheltenham race to go for afterwards.
“I was very happy with his run in the Tingle Creek Chase but he seemed to get himself into a bit of a state going out onto the course. He did the same at Aintree last year under Robert Thornton and I think that we will get on him after he’s got out on to the course in future. He’s not particularly naughty – it’s more a case of anxiety.
“Calgary Bay has also been given an entry in the Ryanair Chase but I don’t know whether he will go to The Festival. The aim is to go for the Grand National with him and he will probably have one run beforehand, possibly in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on January 29.”
Like Somersby, Master Minded also features in the 46 entries for the Ryanair Chase on the third day of The Festival, Thursday, March 17. Other notable contenders for the two-mile five-furlong contest, which has record prize money of £260,000 in 2011, include Master Minded’s stable companion and four-time Cheltenham winner Poquelin, who chased home the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Albertas Run in last season’s race, three-time Grade One winner Long Run, representing Nicky Henderson, and the Edward O’Grady-trained Tranquil Sea, one of 18 Irish-trained contenders.
THE sportingbet.com QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
2/1UPF-1 BARKER (IRE) 10 Eamonn Duignan Willie Mullins IRE
1411-11 BIG ZEB (IRE) 10 Pat Redmond Colm Murphy IRE
F101-14 CAPTAIN CEE BEE (IRE) 10 J P McManus Eoin Harty IRE
45-1641 CORNAS (NZ) 9 The Gascoigne Brookes Partnership III Nick Williams
254/124- CRACK AWAY JACK 7 GDM Partnership Emma Lavelle
22222-2 FORPADYDEPLASTERER (IRE) 9 Goat Racing Syndicate Tom Cooper IRE
11121-0 FRENCH OPERA 8 Judy Wilson & Martin Landau Nicky Henderson
6P11/-15 GAUVAIN (GER) 9 Jared Sullivan & Simon Brown Nick Williams
611-212 GOLDEN SILVER (FR) 9 Violet O'Leary Willie Mullins IRE
1U53-U3 HERECOMESTHETRUTH (IRE) 9 The Not Over Big Partnership Chris Gordon
PB021-4 I'M SO LUCKY 9 Sheila Brookhouse David Pipe
013U-26 J'Y VOLE (FR) 8 Hammer & Trowel Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
1341-46 MAD MAX (IRE) 9 Carole Skipworth & Paul Murphy Nicky Henderson
1314-11 MASTER MINDED (FR) 8 Clive Smith Paul Nicholls
12053-2 PETIT ROBIN (FR) 8 John & Anne Poynton Nicky Henderson
620-353 SCOTSIRISH (IRE) 10 Double R Stables Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
1113-22 SIZING EUROPE (IRE) 9 Ann & Alan Potts Partnership Henry de Bromhead IRE
1122-33 SOMERSBY (IRE) 7 Camilla Radford Henrietta Knight
1/1121-3 TATANIANO (FR) 7 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls
212-1F2 TCHICO POLOS (FR) 7 Chris Giles Paul Nicholls
1/101-11 WOOLCOMBE FOLLY (IRE) 8 The Hon Mrs Townshend Paul Nicholls
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