Soft ground could prove the ultimate factor as to whether Master Minded can complete his hat-trick of victories in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Master Minded produced arguable the performance of the decade when impressing in every department to win the Champion Chase in 2008 and he followed up with a more workmanlike display 12 months later.
However, question marks over whether the horse was well past his best surfaced last year when he was a beaten odds-on favourite in fourth behind Big Zeb.
A breathing operation over the summer seems to have rejuvenated Master Minded to some degree as he has won all three races this season, which has seen him priced as the 2/1 favourite in the Champion Chase betting.
Although this may answer any concerns about his ability, it may be the ground at Cheltenham that has the biggest say on his finishing position in the Champion Chase.
He has won 11 of his last 14 races, but interestingly on the two occasions he has encountered good ground, he has tasted defeat.
All of his victories have come on ground regarded as being good to soft or heavier, meaning that it is in the stamina department that he has the edge over his rivals.
The fact he may not be the fastest horse are also backed up by the fact that his times in winning his two Champion Chases are slower than those recorded by the majority of victors in the race in the last ten years.
Big Zeb is potentially the most likely horse to take advantage if Master Minded slips up again and is 3/1 in the Champion Chase betting, with Somersby and Woolcombe Folly both priced at 6/1.
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