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Cheltenham Festival Shortest Priced Favourite is Master Minded

Thursday 5th March 2009

A total of 14 horses go forward in the day’s feature race, the £320,000 Grade One Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.20pm) headed by reigning champion Master Minded, who destroyed his rivals with a stunning 19-length victory 12 months ago.

The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old, unbeaten this season, is set to be the shortest-priced favourite of the 2009 Festival and his main opposition could be dual Grade One scorer Big Zeb, one of three Irish-trained entries remaining, last year’s The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy hero Tidal Bay, and Well Chief, who was runner-up in this race in 2005 and fell when well fancied in 2007 but has not run for nearly two years.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Petit Robin may re-oppose Master Minded having finished second to the champion in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot in January, while Andrew Balding has left in Briareus, who was fourth to another Clive Smith-owned chaser, Kauto Star, on his latest appearance in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Other notable acceptors include the 2006 Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase victor Newmill, Victor Chandler Chase third Mahogany Blaze, Punchestown Champion Chase winner Twist Magic and Grade Two scorer Scotsirish from the yard of Willie Mullins.

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