Make no mistake, if the same Master Minded who won this race by 19 lengths in 2008 turns up this afternoon, there will only be one winner. In fact, if the same Master Minded that won here by seven lengths last year shows up, he’ll win again. Yet, at odds-on, there are plenty of reasons to take him on and Ferdy Murphy’s nine-year-old Kalahari King makes plenty of appeal.
He should have won last year’s Arkle when he only just failed to reel in FORPADYDEPLASTERER (already advised at 10/1). He then went on to win at Aintree and ran a gallant second to course specialist Twist Magic at Sandown. Yet, arguably one of his most impressive performances to date came at Doncaster last time when he lugged a massive weight to victory in a competitive two mile handicap chase. What made the victory even more impressive was the fact that his trainer warned everyone beforehand that he was nowhere near fully wound up.
He won in the style of a very good horse that day and I’m convinced he can now take his place at the top of the two mile chasing tree. Everything seems to be in his favour this afternoon and he has more than enough class to shake up Master Minded. The hat-trick seeking reigning Champion proved his well being at Newbury last time, but didn’t beat much that day. He also made a terribly uncharacteristic mistake at the last and I’m not yet convinced he is back to his best.
Twist Magic has been trained differently this campaign and as a result has just about the best two mile chasing form on offer. He was impressive in the Tingle Creek and the Victor Chandler Chase and arrives here in great form. However, he hasn’t shown his best form at Cheltenham in the past and he cannot be fancied. Big Zeb doesn’t jump well enough and I’ll be looking to lay him for a place on Betdaq, whilst Well Chief is a bit long in the tooth and Golden Silver wants more rain.
Kalahari King can be backed at 9/2 with William Hill and that looks cracking each-way value. If you are feeling a little more conservative, take the 2/1 on offer with Paddy Power about our selection without Master Minded. Regular followers of this column will know that we have already advised a bet on Forpadydeplasterer at 10/1. He was virtually ruled out of the race a few weeks ago through injury but has made a miraculous recovery. He won’t be far away if showing no ill effects from his set-back.
KALAHARI KING e/w Cheltenham 3.20pm
FORPADYDEPLASTERER 10/1 already advised