Ruby Walsh tips Master Minded for Champion Chase success

Ruby Walsh tips Master Minded for Champion Chase success

The Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase is the showpiece of Ladies Day at Cheltenham Festival and Ruby Walsh is tipping his mount Master Minded to regain his two mile chasing crown from last year’s winner Big Zeb.

Tuesday’s treble hero will be re-united with Master Minded for the first time this season after missing the horse’s prep races during his four month lay-off with injury. The pair have twice won the Champion Chase but trailed behind Big Zeb when finishing fourth in the race at last year’s festival. Paul Nicholls’ star had a lacklustre campaign last season after sustaining a rib injury and then suffering breathing problems, but following surgery in the summer the eight-year-old has returned well and looks near to his best this time around.

His jockey believes Master Minded may not need to produce his best form to win the prize: "I've won two Champion Chases on him and his first one was probably the best performance from any horse I've ever ridden," he said.

"As a five-year-old it was an incredible performance. He's a wonderful jumper, he has unbelievable scope but also has the ability to get close to the boards. It doesn't matter how fast they go as he has a lot of pace and he stays very well. He's a real good horse.

"We could probably do with a drop of rain for him. He handles soft ground better than he does good ground but he's won a Champion Chase on good ground. He only just scraped home at Ascot but Master Minded, on his day, is an incredible horse and if he turns up in that form he'll take a lot of beating.

"He might never repeat that first Champion Chase performance but something about 7lb below will probably be good enough,” Walsh reasoned.

Colm Murphy believes he has last year’s winner Big Zeb in peak condition after being a little under-prepared when finishing second to Golden Silver at Punchestown last time out. Big Zeb had his victor behind him in his only two previous starts this season and they pair will oppose again on Wednesday. It would be a surprise if Golden Silver could repeat the Punchestown result as he has yet to put in an effort of note in his two previous visits to the Cheltenham Festival.

Henrietta Knight saddles Somersby who is bound to come in for support following an eye-catching short-head second to Master Minded at Ascot in January, however Mrs Radford’s seven-year-old may have gone for the Ryanair Chase over a longer distance on Thursday but for the owner’s medical appointment and may find it difficult to stay in touch with the fast early pace.
 

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