Melling Chase Friday 8th April 2011 

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Master Minded Back to His Best in Melling Chase

1 Master Minded 11/2
2 Albertas Run 11/4F
3 Somersby 5/1
10 ran Distances: 9l, ½l, 2¾l
TIME 4m 57.50s (slow by 7.50s)

Former champion two-mile chaser Master Minded erased the memory of last month’s Cheltenham disappointment with a brilliant performance in the day’s feature race, his eighth success at Grade One level.

Master Minded
© Racehorse Photos

Master Minded

The step up in trip to two and a half miles certainly brought about a revival, and Master Minded, amazingly allowed to start at the generous odds of 11/2, destroyed a quality field in imperious fashion, taking command hard on the bridle at the third last and powering away to beat last year’s winner Alberta’s Run by nine lengths.

Master Minded was the forgotten horse in the race, but bookmakers were quick to price him up for the three-mile King George VI Chase at Kempto n - Hills make him 4/1 second-favourite, but you can get 6/1 with Paddy Power and 8/1 with Victor Chandler - and Paul Nicholls confirmed that the Boxing Day cracker will be his first priority next season.

Nicholls said: “That was brilliant, and we now have a new horse to take on Long Run. I probably should have run Master Minded in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham instead of the Champion Chase, where he was flat to the boards all the way and made that horrible mistake two out because he was trying to keep up.

“Kauto Star has been to Kempton and got the video and t-shirt, so now it is Master Minded’s turn. He is next year’s horse, and, though he is still probably the best two-mile chaser in England, it’s clear that he now needs this longer distance and he’ll have his prep race for the King George over two and a half miles at Ascot in November.

“All credit to Ruby (Walsh) - I thought that he was lying too far out of his ground, but he knew just what he was doing. Dan Collins, who rides out Master Minded at home, assured me yesterday that the horse was in better form than before Cheltenham, and he has been proved right.

“We changed his training routine after Cheltenham and worked him with slower horses, which enabled him to relax and enjoy himself in the mornings.”

Asked whether he would run both Kauto Star and Master Minded at Kempton, owner Clive Smith replied: “Good question - we will have to see how Kauto Star runs at Punchestown, but the first time that he runs a bad race he will be retired. I am just so pleased to see Master Minded come back. He’s a champion.”


Starting Price
Beaten Distance
Master Minded
P F Nicholls
R Walsh
11st 10lbs
11 - 2
Albertas Run
Jonjo O'Neill
A P McCoy
11st 10lbs
11 - 4
9 lengths
Miss H C Knight
R Thornton
11st 10lbs
5 - 1
1/2 length
T R George
P J Brennan
11st 10lbs
14 - 1
2 3/4 lengths
French Opera
N J Henderson
B J Geraghty
11st 10lbs
11 - 1
3 3/4 lengths
Mad Max
N J Henderson
P Carberry
11st 10lbs
11 - 1
3/4 length
Tranquil Sea
E J O'Grady
Andrew J McNamara
11st 10lbs
8 - 1
31 lengths
Made In Taipan
T Mullins
R M Power
11st 10lbs
40 - 1
10 lengths
Refused To Race
M F Harris
S Quinlan
11st 10lbs
100 - 1
Kalahari King
Ferdy Murphy
G Lee
11st 10lbs
9 - 2



Jockey Ruby Walsh was delighted with Master Minded, who bounced back to his best to win the John Smith’s Melling Chase.

“Paul (Nicholls) trains them and I ride them - I manage to get it right and sometimes I manage to get it wrong,” said Walsh. “They went a really good gallop and it was a competitive race. He travelled lovely in behind them and really came on the bridle strongly when we turned out of the back.

“It was probably a case of not going too soon on him but he picked up really well going to the last, jumped it well, and quickened all the way to the line.

“It was a disappointing run at Cheltenham but, in hindsight, two miles is just a little bit sharp for him nowadays. He wants to go further and I would imagine that the King George would be his target now for next year.

“He was very good over two and a half miles today and he wasn’t that good over two miles last time, so you have to try him over further. From riding him today, I think that he will get three miles but you won’t know until you actually go and race over three miles.

“You probably won’t know if he stays (three miles) until (the King George VI Chase) at Kempton but it seems the natural progression - if he doesn’t stay, he can come back for the Ryanair Chase.

“With him, it’s no different from watching Lionel Messi or Ronaldo - you expect magic every day - and it is the same with Master Minded. It just can’t happen every day but he is a wonderful horse and the step up in trip is obviously helping him.”

Owner Clive Smith added: “We were not sure whether he would stay two and a half miles properly but he did. I wouldn’t like to think about him taking on Kauto Star in the King George. Kauto has to race (at Punchestown) in Ireland and he has to show that he is loving his races still. I can’t believe that we would let both of them race (at Kempton) but you never know.”



Somersby could spice the mix in next season’s King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day after a fine third behind winner Master Minded in today’s John Smith’s Melling Chase.

Trainer Henrietta Knight said: “I’m very happy with him and thought he ran a great race – probably the best race he’s run this season, and don’t forget he was the youngest horse in the field.

“He won’t run again this season, but on that evidence he looks like a stayer, so the King George VI Chase becomes a consideration.”

Albertas Run, who won last month’s Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, finished runner-up today, and Michael Meagher, racing manager to owner Trevor Hemmings, said: “He’s run well, but that’s probably it for the rest of this season. There’s only Punchestown left and he owes us nothing.”

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