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21 Contenders for Queen Mother Champion Chase

Dual winner Master Minded heads a superb entry of 21 for this year’s £320,000 Queen Mother Champion Chase, highlight of the second day of The Festival, Wednesday, March 16.

Big Zeb
2010 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner

Big Zeb

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 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 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 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.


Henrietta Knight, who sent out Edredon Bleu to a thrilling victory in the 2000 renewal of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, may this year be represented by Somersby, a 25/1 chance with The seven-year-old, who also has the option of contesting the Ryanair Chase, is on course to make a third successive appearance at The Festival, having come home third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2008 and gone down by three quarters of a length to Sizing Europe last year. On his latest start, Somersby stayed on well to take third behind Master Minded in the Grade One Keith Prowse Hospitality Tingle Creek Chase.

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.


Class 1, Grade 1, 2m, £320,000 Total Prize Fund. 3.20pm, Cheltenham, Wednesday, March 16, 2011. For 5yo+ which are allotted a rating of 130 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including March 9 - horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain, Ireland or France may also be entered & such horses may be eligible providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including March 9 would merit a minimum rating of 130 (the decision of the BHA Head of Handicapping shall be final). Weights: 11st 10lb. Allowances: mares 7lb. Entries closed January 11, entries revealed January 13 (21 entries), scratchings deadline February 15, £16,000 supplementary entry & six-day confirmation stage March 10. Final 48-hour declaration stage, 10am, March 14. Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Tuesday, January 11.

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

21 entries

8 Irish-trained


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