Master set for Punchestown trip

Master Minded looks set to line up at the Punchestown Festival next week after connections decided to supplement him for Tuesday's Kerrygold Champion Chase.

The six-year-old won his second Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month and champion trainer Paul Nicholls had been mulling over whether to run his charge again before the end of the season.

Saturday's bet365.com Celebration Chase at Sandown had been the preferred option but with conditions in Esher likely to be too quick, Nicholls has decided to send his charge across the Irish Sea in search of the fifth Grade One prize of his career.

"We would have liked to have gone to Sandown but it doesn't look like there is going to be enough rain before the weekend so a Grade One at Punchestown suits him very well," Nicholls told At The Races.

"He's a big, strong horse so you wouldn't want to run him on fast ground and Clive (Smith, owner) and I have been discussing it over the last fortnight on a daily basis.

"We said if there was plenty of rain forecast we would look at Punchestown and that is what we're doing."

Officials at the Dublin venue are understandably delighted the French-bred gelding is a possible for their flagship meeting.

Punchestown general manager Dick O'Sullivan said: "It is a marvellous privilege to have a world-class horse like Master Minded entered to run at Punchestown.

"Paul Nicholls has been a great supporter of ours and had an especially good Festival last year.

"It will be a wonderful opportunity for racing enthusiasts to see a horse of this calibre in the flesh and we look forward to welcoming Clive Smith to the home of Irish National Hunt racing."

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