Master Minded wins Queen Mother Champion Chase

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Master Minded pulled away over the last two fences to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival by seven lengths today.

Master Minded, the 4-11 favorite, emerged from the bunched field four fences out and eased away from 12-1 shots Well Chief and Petit Robin to win the 2-mile race.

Although it was a less impressive performance than last year, when Master Minded won by 19 lengths, the victory gave jockey Ruby Walsh a 21st win at Cheltenham — the most prestigious meet on the hurdles calendar.

It also made the 29-year-old Irishman the first jockey since Mick Fitzgerald in 1999 to win three races in a single day at Cheltenham.

"Last year, we were probably a little bit harder on him than before today," trainer Paul Nicholls said. "You only get him ready to perform at a level you think.

"We just wanted him to win the race today, which he has done. He's got a little lazy now because he does everything so easily."

Well Chief finished second to the 6-year-old Master Minded with Petit Robin third after Briareus, with Tony McCoy on board, fell at the last.

Master Minded sat back in sixth as the race slowed as early leader Marodima was reeled back in by the pack.

The favorite surged through, taking Well Chief, Petit Robin and Briareus with him, although the trio was unable to keep up.

Master Minded could now emulate Badsworth Boy, the 1983-85 winner, and win the race for three straight years.

"If we mind him and look after him he can keep on coming back," Nicholls said.

The festival continues Thursday with the showpiece Gold Cup race on Friday.