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Master Minded

Master Minded
Sire Nikos
Dam Haute Tension
Grandsire Nonoalco
Damsire Garde Royale
Gender Gelding
Foaled 2003
Country France
Color Bay
Breeder Marie-Christine Gabeur
Owner Mrs Benoît Gabeur
Clive D. Smith (2007–)
Trainer Guillaume Macaire
Paul Nicholls (2007–)
Record 16: 9-2-0
Earnings £735,629
Master Minded is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Haute Tension by Nikos. He was born around 2003 in France, and was bred by Marie-Christine Gabeur.
Major wins
Game Spirit Chase (2008, 2010)
Queen Mother Champion Chase (2008, 2009)
Tingle Creek Chase (2008)
Victor Chandler Chase (2009)
Kerrygold Champion Chase (2009)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on April 29, 2009

Master Minded (foaled April 14, 2003) is a French bred National Hunt racehorse bred by Marie Christine Gabeur presently trained in Great Britain by Paul Nicholls.


Early Days in France

He started his National Hunt career in France. He was initially trained by Guillaume Macaire. He started his career with 8 runs at Auteuil from 4 October 2006 as a three year old to 27 May 2007. He had 3 wins, a fourth, pulling up once, two falls and possible his best run when he finished runner-up in the 2007 Prix Ferdinand Dufaure. Prior to this run he had shown plenty of class and Clive Smith (owner of Kauto Star) was impressed with what he had seen and had bought him and Ruby Walsh had his first ride on the horse in that race.

2007 - 2008 Season

In 2007 he joined the powerful Ditcheat stable of Paul Nicholls to begin chasing. He was not a novice following his win in France so was thrown in at the deep end against seasoned campaigners. Nicholls found an easy opening for him at Exeter Racecourse in a 4 runner graduation Chase where Sam Thomas took the ride (Ruby Walsh was injured) where he fell inexplicably made a serious error and unseated Sam Thomas.

Not perturbed Nicholls took him up a class to run at Sandown on 5 January 2008 in the Free £25 Bet partybets.com Handicap Chase at Sandown. He took on some real seasoned campaigners in this and taught them a lesson. After the race he was now starting to be taken seriously as a Cheltenham Festival horse and was surprisingly for such an inexperienced horse made 8-1 favourite for the RyanAir Chase and 25-1 for the Champion Chase. [1]

He stepped up another step in his next run the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury (9 February 2008) which is a very important stepping stone to the Queen Mother Champion Chase where he beat a top class field including the defending champion Voy Por Ustedes. Now this recruit was starting to be taken seriously as a challenger for serious honours. [2]

On 13 March 2008 as a five-year-old he became the youngest horse to win the prestigious Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival since the race was established in 1959. Ridden by Ruby Walsh, Master Minded comfortably defeated the previous year's winner, Voy Por Ustedes, by a margin of 19 lengths. This was an astonishing performance as he crushed his opposition in a style not seen before by most seasoned watchers. John Francome said that on that form he could have won any race in the Festival which was the highest compliment possible from the former Champion Jockey and described the horse as "Scary". Strangely his trainer in his early years Macaire had also previously trained both Runner Up Voy Por Ustedes and another of the 2008 Champion Chase runners, Twist Magic (sixth). [3]

He was now highest rated Chaser in the world and had one more run at Aintree. He was beaten by Voy Por Ustedes at Aintree. The Racing Post describes this race for Master Minded like this "As much as Voy Por Ustedes relished the rapidly drying conditions, Master Minded intermittently looked uneasy, certainly not jumping or travelling with the zest he showed at Cheltenham. That might be as much to do with a change of tactics. He set off last and was put immediately on the back foot off the fast pace by getting in close to the first, possibly frightening himself, as he was careful over the second. He telegraphed his second-last boneshaker first time and was again ragged over the same set of fences down the back straight. He still moved up strongly around the home bend and there was everything to play for before it simply looked like he ran out of stamina, which is what connections reported. He was 12 lengths down halfway up the run-in before being eased to accentuate his beating. He remains the one to beat over 2m. It could also turn out that like another top 2m chaser from France, Edredon Bleu, he is happiest bowling along and putting his rivals under pressure. A return to those tactics could restore his air of invincibility."

He finished the 2007/2008 jumps season as the Highest Rated Chaser in the World. A remarkable rise to the top and leaving him with a lot to live up to in the next season.

2008 - 2009 Season

Master Minded started the season with an effortless victory in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park. He was ridden by A P McCoy as Ruby Walsh was injured having had his spleen removed following a fall a fortnight prior. McCoy was massively impressed with the machine he was riding and just was amazed by the horse.

His next run was another easy victory in the Victor Chandler chase at Ascot where Ruby Walsh was back on board. He said that "this horse is not a machine - he is an aeroplane" and Nicholls has come out and said it is the best he had ever trained [4] which is high praise indeed.

With jockey Ruby Walsh at the helm, Master Minded won the 2009 Queen Mother Champion Chase. The win marked consecutive victories for him in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, which he also won in 2008. He makes the opposition look ordinary and they're not ordinary.[5]


  1. racingpost.com - Free £25 Bet partybets.com Handicap Chase Full Result
  2. racingpost.com - Game Spirit Chase Full Result
  3. racingpost.com - Champion Chase Full Result
  4. Telegraph.co.uk - Master Minded is the best horse I've ever trained says trainer Paul Nicholls
  5. "Master Minded shows genius as Walsh completes treble" www.guardian.co.uk, 11 March 2009, accessed 12 March 2009.

See also

  • Telegraph.co.uk - Master Minded is the best horse I've ever trained says trainer Paul Nicholls


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