Master Minded gives McCoy a tingle after routing rivals

Champion heaps praise on top jumper

Having won the Tingle Creek Chase on the horse who is officially the best jumper in training, Master Minded, Tony McCoy admitted that he is not looking forward to the gelding's challenge for a second successive Queen Mother Champion Chase come the Cheltenham Festival. "The chances are that I'll be riding something else," he said, "in which case all I'll get is a view of this one's backside."

That McCoy was drafted in to ride the Paul Nicholls-trained crack yesterday with the Somerset stable's number two rider Sam Thomas, himself deputising for injured Ruby Walsh, suffering a crisis of confidence after a series of missed sitters, has been well documented. On the book Master Minded, making his seasonal debut, was a penalty kick but, given the pressure of the importance of victory, never can a goalmouth have looked so small.

If any man could step up to the plate ice-bloodedly, though, it was 13-time champion McCoy. "There is pressure in this job to a certain extent every day, which you get used to," he said, "but obviously there is more with the bigger races, and with certain sets of circumstances, and if you don't feel it then you're not doing the job right. But out there I have to forget it and just try to put the horse in the right place to jump the fences and run to his best."

To that end, McCoy found the posts moved further inwards at the first fence, where German raider Fiepes Shuffle over-jumped and came down in the lead and Master Minded, next over the obstacle, had to react with mental and physical agility to skip over the sprawling form. Then, as the faller got up unscathed and overtook his rivals, he became a hazardous mobile chicane.

Master Minded, not knowing the potential for disaster a riderless horse represents, jumped accurately, cleverly and boldly in front, leaving his jockey to fret. "The whole way round all I was worrying about the loose one,"McCoy said. "I couldn't relax until he peeled off and went up the hurdles track on the home turn. After that, I was able to ask mine to quicken and win the race. The acceleration he produced was like the excitement of holding a winning lottery ticket.

"Riding a two-mile chaser with his speed and power is what you live for as a jump jockey. He's an absolute machine. I've always thought Moscow Flyer was the best two-miler I'd ever see but this guy could be better."

Master Minded produced a showboat leap at the last and strode up the hill to win by 10 lengths from the Howard Johnson-trained Tidal Bay, followed in by another Nicholls runner, Takeroc. The third from the yard, last year's winner Twist Magic, fell two out when in contention for a place.

Master Minded is now long odds-on for another Champion Chase and Tidal Bay will not be taking him on again. "He showed his battling qualities and wasn't punished for second," said Johnson of the seven-year-old, who may step up to three miles in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

The Grade One feature was the second leg of a 196-1 four-timer for McCoy (his second on successive Saturdays), after Clay Hollister and before Sunnyhillboy and Kilbeggan Blade. But even he could not galvanise Free World to repel the late thrust of Araldur, a giant chestnut of infinite potential trained by Alan King, as the two French-bred four-year-olds left their rivals behind in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase.

At Chepstow, hapless Thomas continued his rocky spell. He rode four favourites and ended his day with a win, two seconds, an unseating and a one-day ban.

Nicholls preferred to concentrate on the positives, though he admitted to relief after Master Minded's dominant performance. "Things have been up and down and there has been pressure," he said, "but that is the nature of sport. You can't win every time and you have to take the rough with the smooth. People have been making rather too much of the fact that we seem to have been having a bad time but we have actually made a better start to the season than ever before."

Master Minded's pre-Cheltenham target is likely to be the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February. "He's still improving and can only get better," added Nicholls, "and today was the perfect start for him."

A good start to the campaign, too, for two hurdlers with the top title as their target. At Wetherby, in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, Punjabi rallied to beat Sublimity a neck. Punjabi, the 15th winner for Nicky Henderson in 14 days, is now on the trail of a £1m bonus which will be his should he win Kempton's Christmas Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle itself.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue