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Cheltenham: Champion Chase runners and riders Queen Mother Champion Chase
2m, Cheltenham, Wednesday 16 March 1520 GMT
Number, form, horse's name, age, weight, trainer, jockey.
Odds are a guide for information purposes only.

By Oliver Brett

Verdict: Master Minded is an equine superstar, with seven Grade One chase successes behind him, including two past wins in this race. However, his very best days could be behind him and stablemate WOOLCOMBE FOLLY - who is beginning to put together some very impressive form at just the right time - is the selection. Game Spirit winner French Opera is a lively each-way contender at a nice price.

Pinsticker's choice:
1 Woolcombe Folly 2 French Opera 3 Master Minded

1 11-112 BIG ZEB 10 11-10
Colm Murphy Barry Geraghty
A surprise victor last year but a very worthy defending champion who will take plenty of beating. Tidy winner twice already this season until pipped by familiar rival Golden Silver last time. Must defy poor recent record of 10-year-olds in this race.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 11-4

2 181-14 CAPTAIN CEE BEE 10 11-10
Edward Harty Tony McCoy
Beat reigning champion hurdler Binocular to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 2008. Switched to fences last season and has four wins in seven starts over the larger obstacles but was very poor in his most recent outing and would have to improve massively to sneak a place.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 9-1

3 16417 CORNAS 9 11-10
Nick Williams Leighton Aspell
Three past visits to Cheltenham but yet to squeeze into the top-three at the course. All past evidence suggests this horse is a decent enough handicapper who would struggle in this kind of company.
Rating: 3/10 Odds: 100-1

4 121-91 FRENCH OPERA 8 11-10
Nicky Henderson Andrew Tinkler
Trainer's sole Queen Mother success was in 1992 but he has a squeak of a chance with this one, who was a very tidy winner of the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February (2m 1f, good to soft). Enjoyed an excellent 2009-10 season, including two Cheltenham wins.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 20-1

5 212111 GOLDEN SILVER 9 11-10
Willie Mullins Paul Townend
A French-bred horse whose CV within Ireland is terrific but on each of his two previous Cheltenham Festival appearances he has let down connections by performing well below par. Unlikely to suddenly enjoy the unique challenges of this track on this occasion.
Rating: 6/10 Odds: 10-1

6 821-46 I'M SO LUCKY 9 11-10
David Pipe Tom Scudamore
Has already finished more than 20 lengths behind Master Minded in each of his two races this season, so it is probably safe to ignore his win at this distance 11 months ago on good ground at Sandown.
Rating: 3/10 Odds: 100-1

7 41-463 MAD MAX 9 11-10
Nicky Henderson Paul Carberry
A solid jumper but he has never taken to the exacting conditions at Cheltenham particularly well and has plenty to find against a number of these. Would be a surprise to see him in the shake-up.
Rating: 5/10 Odds: 33-1

8 14-111 MASTER MINDED 8 11-10
Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh
One of the Nicholls stable stars, he won this race very cosily in both 2008 and 2009 but finished a disappointing fourth last time. Three wins in three this term have seen him top the ante-post betting yet again and if he is delivered in peak condition it will take an outstanding run from someone else to deny him a third Champion Chase crown.
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 100-30

9 13-223 SIZING EUROPE 9 11-10
Henry de Bromhead Andrew Lynch
Last year's Arkle winner has struggled to produce a compelling follow-up season but connections showed form with a Festival winner on day one and trainer Henry de Bromhead is confident the two-mile distance on decent ground will sharpen up Sizzling Europe's jumping.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 8-1

10 22-332 SOMERSBY 7 11-10
Henrietta Knight Robert Thornton
Trainer Henrietta Knight has vacillated over declaring this one, having strongly considered the longer trip offered in the Ryanair Chase. In truth, this race is richer for the presence of Somersby - who had closed to within a shoulder of Master Minded in January's Victor Chandler Chase when the winning post came. Seems sure to land a big race at some point but may have to settle for a place again on Wednesday.
Rating: 7/10 Odds: 8-1

11 101-11 WOOLCOMBE FOLLY 8 11-10
Paul Nicholls Daryl Jacob
Seriously exciting prospect who shrugged off top weight and the burden of favouritism to win over this course and distance last time out (December, good to soft) completing a sequence of eight wins from nine races. Fascinatingly, takes on many of these for the first time - and who is to say he will not be able to catch them cold and beat the lot?
Rating: 8/10 Odds: 8-1

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see also
Hurricane Fly takes Hurdle glory
15 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Cheltenham Festival day one as it happened
15 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Cheltenham images
18 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Sizing Europe wins Champion Chase
16 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Big Zeb lands Champion Chase win
17 Mar 10 |  Horse Racing
Master Minded romps to Chase win
11 Mar 09 |  Horse Racing
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing
Cheltenham Festival 2011 schedule
23 Feb 11 |  Horse Racing

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