herald

Monday 18 December 2017

ruby's mind is on treble

Walsh on brink with Master but possible Twist in tail

Badsworth Boy's success in the 1985 Queen Mother Champion Chase is what Master Minded will be trying to emulate tomorrow afternoon as he bids for a third win on the trot for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh.

Not since Michael Dickinson and Robert Earnshaw made it three on the bounce with the 10-year-old 25 years ago has there been a three-time Champion Chaser. Many have racked up two -- including the likes of Moscow Flyer, Viking Flagship, Barnbrook Again and Pearlyman to name just a few since the late 1980s -- but Master Minded could be joining elite company if managing to take home the honours once more.

Badsworth Boy was the only other horse to win three in a row, but won his third as a 10-year-old and Master Minded certainly has limited miles on the clock to suggest that he could indeed keep going for many years, although he has yet to be as impressive as his first triumph.

A fractured rib meant he was below par before a decisive return to winning ways last time at Newbury when Ruby took the blame for the horse galloping through the last fence, but had enough in hand on that occasion to mean the race was all over.

Master Minded, or even Twist Magic, winning tomorrow would give Paul Nicholls a fifth win in the race, leaving him just one behind Tom Dreaper who has six wins. And Twist Magic, on his Sandown form, has to be considered. Some people prefer to think that Twist Magic is only at his best around Sandown but his effort in this season's Tingle Creek was above ordinary and under Choc Thornton he could force his way through to make it a Nicholls 1-2 in the race.

You would have to think that Tony McCoy probably had the choice over Forpadydeplasterer and Twist Magic, but he has opted for last year's Arkle winner, who is reportedly back to full fitness after a setback that almost ended his season.

That setback may just catch him out for match fitness.

In the RSA Chase, Long Run is the one they have to beat and the only thing that might beat him is a clear round.

Punchestowns vies for favouritism despite having issues himself, but if Barry Geraghty was onboard Long Run rather than the owner's son Sam Waley-Cohen French import Long Run would be a very short odds-on chance.

He had winning form in France before joining Henderson so he won't be lacking in experience.

And while Sam Waley-Cohen is not as experienced as his fellow riders in this race, he has failed to do anything wrong to date and deserves a chance here.

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