Ascot stopover for Champion Chase favourite Master Minded

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Tagged under: 3.20 Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase 2m

Owner Clive Smith has confirmed that his dual Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, Master Minded will head for Ascot this month on his way to the Cheltenham Festival meeting in March.

The gelding, trained by Paul Nicholls, will line up for the £105,000 Grade One Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot on 22 January before renewing rivalry with Big Zeb in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival meeting.

Smith told At The Races: "I think last year he had the interruption before Christmas when he had a cracked rib and had a break in the training programme and just never quite got back to his best for the Festival.

"This year he has had an uninterrupted programme and seems much better. I think he's in better shape this year than last year at this time and is in very good order and we're very hopeful about Cheltenham but we'll see how he goes at Ascot first."

Master Minded is one of three horses to pull off the Victor Chandler Chase/Queen Mother Champions Chase double, his 2009 achievement emulating Viking Flagship in 1994 and Call Equiname in 1999.

In the disrupted 2010 season, Master Minded was beaten at Ascot by stable companion Twist Magic before finishing fourth behind Big Zeb when attempting a hat-trick of wins in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Sponsor Victor Chandler has installed Master Minded at odds of 1/2 ahead of 7/1 shots Petit Robin and Somersby for the Ascot race which has twelve entered.

Bookies believe an in-form Master Minded can regain his old crown from Big Zeb in March and Boylesports is offering the best odds of 15/8 for Master Minded to come away from Cheltenham with his third Champion Chase success.

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