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Nic Ladds 26th Apr 2009 - 19:50

Master Minded is back at the Punchestown Festival

As the Punchestown Festival nears the markets are already taking shape for some of the hottest races and all eyes will be on Paul Nicholls' superstar Master Minded.

The highlight of the Irish racing calendar has been eagerly anticipated all season and the Kerrygold Champion Chase has Master Minded installed as 1/4 favourite.

It will take a fall from the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner or a stunning performance from one of his rivals to overturn the favourite.

Among his rivals are Big Zeb at odds of 6/1 who fell in the English version of this race but followed that with a good win at Fairyhouse.

2007 winner Mansony lines up at 10/1 in the betting with 2006 winner Newmill taking his chance again at 33/1.

Willie Mullins' hope Scotsirish finished ahead of Newmill in fourth in the Melling Chase at Aintree and is worth his place in the line up at 16/1.

Two other Irish chances complete the line up with Watson Lake, who seems more at home at Navan a 25/1 chance and Conna Castle will need a career-best performance to compete and is priced at 33/1.

The Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup has some illustrious previous winners including War Of Attrition, Kicking King and winner of the last two years, Neptune Collonges.

This year the favourite is currently 4/1 chance Imperial Commander who already has excellent wins in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Ryan Air Chase to his name this season and looks to have an excellent chance of a third big win.

His rivals include Welsh National winner Notre Pere at 9/2 and Royal Sun Alliance Chase winner Cooldine who looks a big danger also at 9/2 in the betting.

Barbers Shop is a 5/1 chance and he jumps beautifully but may be outstayed by some of his more stamina abundant rivals.

2006 winner of this race War Of Attrition takes his chance again and is priced at 6/1 to record a second victory in this race.

He will surely give punters a run for their money but whether he can recapture the form he showed in 2006 remains open to question.

Albertas Run, Roll Along and Schindlers Hunt are all 10/1 shots and the latter of the three has two excellent seconds behind Voy Por Ustedes to his name this season, form which should be good enough to have him in with a big chance.

Air Force One has run in some big races this season without making a huge impact although his win last season in the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown over this distance could put him in with a chance and will have his backers odds of 16/1.

Grand National ninth Snowy Morning certainly has the stamina for this but maybe not the class and looks Willie Mullins' second string behind Cooldine and is 20/1 in the betting.

This is already lining up to be a mouth-watering five days of jumping action featuring a host of the best horses around and getting a chance to see the great Master Minded for the final time this season is just one of the many highlights.

Look out for most ante-post markets being released and we will have previews and information for all the big races as well as our Best Odds Guaranteed promise as ever being available.

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View Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup betting

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In case you've forgotten how brilliant he is here's Master Minded winning the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot earlier this seaon.


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