It was all supposed to be so easy but it turned into a real slog for Master Minded at Ascot on Saturday.
Sent off the 4/7 favourite, Master Minded looked to be cruising with four fences to go in the Victor Chandler Chase, but the looming Somersby applied the pressure and Master Minded took the victory by a nose.
As a result Master Minded has been eased out to a best price 5/2 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and Irish contender and reigning Champion Chaser Big Zeb is in to 3/1 from 7/2.
Master Minded’s jockey AP McCoy blamed himself for the tight finish, suggesting that he should have reigned Master Minded in when the field slowed sown half way through, and trainer Paul Nicholls said he was delighted with the win and Master Minded will be fit for Cheltenham.
Somersby’s trainer Henrietta Knight was clearly delighted by the performance of her star chaser, and Somersby’s Champion Chase odds have been cut into 8/1, although Knight was still unsure of which race to target Somersby at.
The Ryanair Chase is the other option for Somersby and following his Victor Chandler run, Somersby is now the ante post 4/1 favourite in the Ryanair Chase betting, replacing Poquelin (9/2) at the head of the market.
The Cheltenham Festival is the blue riband event of the National Hunt calendar and the next couple of weeks will see the Cheltenham contenders in action – new customers can sign up here for a fee Cheltenham bet worth £25.
Grandouet was also in action at Ascot on Saturday and the ease of his victory has seen him become the new JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite having been cut into 8/1 from 10/1.
A £25 double on Master Minded and Grandouet winning at the Cheltenham Festival would return £787.50. New customers can sign up here for a free bet worth £25.