Eight take on Master challenge

MASTER MINDED features among a field of nine runners in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot tomorrow.

The dual Champion Chase hero has enjoyed a fantastic start to the campaign, destroying his rivals in the Amlin 1965 Chase before following up in equally impressive style in the Tingle Creek at Cheltenham.

Five horses that took him on in the latter event reoppose this weekend, with Petit Robin (second), Somersby (third), I’m So Lucky (fourth), Gauvain (fifth) and Kalahari King (seventh) bidding to reverse form.

Master Minded’s trainer Paul Nicholls will also saddle Tchico Polos, while Petit Robin’s handler Nicky Henderson also fires two shots at the race as he also runs Mad Max.

The latter was last seen finishing sixth in the Vote AP Gold Cup at Cheltenham and his owner, Paul Murphy, believes the switch to Ascot will be in his favour.

He said: “He’s been running at Cheltenham over two-miles-five this season and I think a return to a flatter track could help him.

“He was running a cracking race in the Arkle last season until he hit the second-last.

“We’ll know more about what to run him in at Cheltenham after this weekend. If he runs well it will probably be the Queen Mother.”

Crack Away Jack is an interesting contender for Emma Lavelle, making his comeback from injury after over a year on the sidelines.

The seven-year-old gelding has not been seen since finishing fourth in the 2009 williamhill.com Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton, however Lavelle reports him to be in good form ahead of a return to action.

“He’s definitely back in good order,” she said.

“In a funny sort of way he’s probably schooled as well this time around as he’s ever schooled.”

“I think he can take a very high rank over fences if everything goes to plan,” she added.

Take The Breeze heads the weights after 13 runners were declared for the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock tomorrow.

The Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old has been off the track since filling the runner-up spot in Ascot’s United House Gold Cup back in October and will concede weight all round on his return to action.

Pat Murphy’s Maktu is turned out just a fortnight after running a fine fifth in the Welsh National, while Malcolm Jefferson’s King Fontaine returns to Merseyside following two course successes in November.

Madison Du Berlais was sixth in the King George VI Chase at Kempton just a week ago but is back on the racecourse again for the David Pipe team.

Howard Johnson’s Frankie Figg was successful over the Grand National fences in the Grand Sefton on his latest start and Becauseicouldntsee is an interesting challenger from Ireland.

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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