Master Minded dazzles at new specialist subject

Paul Nicholls has been wondering where he might find a horse to tackle Long Run, now that the new champion has deposed his stalwarts, Kauto Star and Denman.

To judge from events here yesterday, he has had one all along. Master Minded, whose defeat at Cheltenham last month implied that he might himself be past his very best, produced one of the finest performances of his career when tried over two and a half miles in the John Smith's Melling Chase, always coasting and easing nine lengths clear of Alberta's Run.

Nicholls reproached himself for persevering over two miles with Master Minded at Cheltenham. "He was flat to the boards all the way, and made that horrible mistake two out because he was trying to keep up," the trainer said. "It's clear that he needs this longer distance now and we now have a new horse to take on Long Run." Next season Master Minded will be aimed at the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, a race won four times prior to Long Run's emergence by Kauto Star. "Kauto has got the video and the T-shirt," Nicholls said. "Now it's Master Minded's turn."

Clive Smith, who owns both horses, is not yet entertaining the possibility that Kauto Star and Master Minded could end up in the same race. "You never know," he said. "We will have to see how Kauto Star runs at Punchestown next month, but the first time he runs a bad race he'll be retired."

Nicholls has almost certainly sealed his sixth consecutive trainers' championship this week, regardless of his quest for a first win in the big race today. But he will be reluctant to count any chickens after seeing Mon Parrain looking home and hosed in the John Smith's Topham Chase over the National fences, only to be reeled in late by Always Waining. The winner, trained by Peter Bowen, was emulating his success in the same race last year and only just missed the cut for the National this time round.

Another Welsh horse, Saint Are, gave Tim Vaughan the biggest moment of his career so far in the John Smith's Sefton Hurdle, while Quito De La Roque overcame the drying ground to thwart a 50-1 shot, Sarando, by a neck in the novice chase. Tom Scudamore dislocated a shoulder in a fall from The Giant Bolster, creating a vacancy on Or Noir De Somoza in the National. Barry Geraghty, the 2003 winner on Monty's Pass, was asked to take over by David Pipe and promptly produced a flawless audition on Battle Group. Daryl Jacob meanwhile book-ended the day with wins on Topolski and Tempest River, both advertising the merits of smaller stables, run by David Arbuthnot and Ben Case respectively.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Plan A (5.00 Aintree)

Cruised for a long way at Cheltenham and sharper test and tongue-tie can help him last longer today.

Next Best

Arbor Supreme (4.15 Aintree)

See main preview

One To Watch

Westmeath (Philip Rothwell) was making ground smoothly when hitting three out at Aintree yesterday.

Where The Money's Going

Don't Push It is 10-1 from 14-1 with Coral for the big race today.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas