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Master set for Big Zeb rematch


Trainer Paul Nicholls. Photo: Getty Images

Trainer Paul Nicholls. Photo: Getty Images

Trainer Paul Nicholls. Photo: Getty Images

MASTER MINDED is one of only 21 entries for the Champion Chase. The Paul Nicholls-trained dual winner, which could manage only fourth behind Big Zeb last March, will be bidding to become only the second chaser to win the premier two-mile event three times after Badsworth Boy.

Nicholls, who is chasing a fifth win in the race, could also run Woolcombe Folly, Tataniano and Tchico Polos.

Big Zeb is part of a strong Irish entry, with 2010 Arkle winner Sizing Europe, Forpadydeplasterer, Captain Cee Bee and Golden Silver all in the mix.

Nicky Henderson has entered Petit Robin, Mad Max and French Opera, while Gauvain, Crack Away Jack and Somersby, trained by Henrietta Knight, could also run.

Meanwhile, Pat Martin has his sights firmly set on the Connolly's Red Mills Thyestes Chase with Agus A Vic at Gowran Park next Thursday.

Last seen finishing a fine fourth in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, the 10-year-old is set to swerve Cheltenham in March and has the Irish Grand National as a long-term target.

"He is on target for the Thyestes and will work tomorrow morning. If that goes okay, he will go to Gowran," said Martin, whose charge is 10/1 joint-second favourite behind Pomme Tiepy alongside The Midnight Club and Alpha Ridge.

A significant withdrawal was the well-backed Willie Mullins-trained Barker, an impressive scorer at Tramore at the start of the month.

"The horse is back to himself," said owner Eamonn Duignan. "At Punchestown in December 2009 he went down as an unseated rider but he had a small fracture of the pelvis."

Irish Independent