MASTER MINDED, successful in this 12 months ago, will probably be the shortest priced favourite during the four days of the festival and he is hard to oppose, getting the verdict ahead of Well Chief and Big Zeb. The last mentioned was still there with every chance before falling two out in a Grade 2 contest at Punchestown last time. His earlier form when successful at Leopardstown is solid but some way below that of the selection. Nicky Henderson's Petit Robin has plenty to find with Master Minded on their running at Ascot in January, while Andrew Balding's Briareus should do better being dropped in trip having been outstayed behind Kauto Star in the King George when last seen. Well Chief won the Arkle in 2004 when trained by Martin Pipe but is having his first start in nearly two years for David Pipe today so looks best watched. Paul Nicholls has a strong hand in the Queen Mother saddling Twist Magic as well as Master Minded and the former has claims on the form shown prior to falling in the Tingle Creek and on what he achieved last season. However, stable companion Master Minded is a spectacular jumper of his fences, has a good cruising speed and is fully expected to justify likely short odds.
Ashley Brook (IRE) 33-1 (11-3) Led to 1st, soon outpaced, behind and no chance from 3 out, plodded on from 2 out, 5th of 9, 24l behind Ashkazar (11-7) at Wincanton 2m hdl Grd 2 (1) sft in Feb.
Big Zeb (IRE) 11-8fav (11-12) Held up, progress into moderate 3rd halfway, 2nd and closed on leader 3 out, in touch travelling easily straight, 1 1/2 lengths down when fell at the last in race won by Mansony (11-12) at Punchestown 2m chs Grd 2 hvy in Feb, 5 ran.
Briareus 33-1 (11-10) Raced wide, tended to jump left, held up, went poor 4th under pressure 3 out, 4th of 10, 32l behind Kauto Star (11-10) at Kempton 3m chs Grd 1 (1) gd in Dec.
Mahogany Blaze (FR) 33-1 (11-7) 3rd of 5, 21l behind Master Minded (11-7) at Ascot 2m 1f chs Grd 1 (1) gs in Jan.
Marodima (FR) 7-2 (11-5) Took keen hold, led 2nd, ridden and headed approaching 3 out, soon outpaced, rallied approaching last, stayed on flat, 3rd of 5, 2 1/2l behind Tidal Fury (10-2) at Uttoxeter 2m hcp chs (2) hvy in Feb.
Master Minded (FR) 1-4fav (11-7) With leader, led 4th, clear 2 out, easily, won at Ascot 2m 1f chs Grd 1 (1) gs in Jan beating Petit Robin (11-7) by 16l, 5 ran.
Newmill (IRE) 16-1 (11-10) Led, headed just before straight, dropped to 4th and no impression from 2 out, kept on same pace, 4th of 6, 16l behind Solwhit (11-6) at Gowran Park 2m hdl Grd 2 hvy in Feb.
Petit Robin (FR) 6-1 (11-7) Led, headed 4th, jumped left 5th and 6th and mistake, outpaced when mistake 3 out, rallied to take 2nd last, no chance with winner, 2nd of 5, 16l behind Master Minded (11-7) at Ascot 2m 1f chs Grd 1 (1) gs in Jan.
Santa's Son (IRE) 5-1 (11-6) Chased leaders, led after 5 out, clear from 3 out, easily, won at Wetherby 2m hcp chs (2) sft in Dec beating Moon Over Miami (11-10) by 19l, 9 ran.
Scotsirish (IRE) 2-1 (11-10) Held up in rear, slight mistake and ridden 4 out, no impression after next, left remote 3rd from 2 out, 3rd of 5, 21l behind Mansony (11-12) at Punchestown 2m chs Grd 2 hvy in Feb.
Twist Magic (FR) 13-8fav (11-10) Reluctant and led in start, held up in touch, ridden and struggling from 8th, tailed off, 6th of 7, 28l behind Fiepes Shuffle (11-0) at Kempton 2m chs Grd 2 (1) gd in Dec.
Well Chief (GER) 4-5fav (11-10) Held up , headway 4 out, chased winner approaching 2 out, no extra last, 3rd of 6, 13l behind Monet's Garden (11-10) at Aintree 2m 4f chs Grd 1 (1) gd in Apr '07.