Minded back to masterful best
Master Minded bounced back to something like his brilliant best with an imperious performance under Ruby Walsh in the John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree.
The dual Champion Chase hero was well beaten in last month's renewal of the two-miler at Cheltenham and was sent off at 11-2 on his step up to two and a half miles.
The Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old jumped and travelled with the panache of old and was still hard on the bridle coming down the straight, finding plenty when required and easing clear after a good leap at the last to secure a nine-length win.
Ryanair Chase winner Albertas Run was bidding for his second successive victory in the race, but had to make do with the runner-up spot. Somersby was third.
Nicholls said: "He's much better over a trip. It's great now we can step up a bit with him. We'll aim him for the King George and we have a different horse to have a crack at Long Run with now.
"He'll have a holiday now and he'll go for the same race he won at Ascot over two and a half miles and then the King George. When he's at his best he's a really good horse."
Walsh added: "They went a really good gallop. It was a competitive race. He travelled lovely in behind them and he came on the bridle strongly when we turned out the back.
"It was a case of not going too soon on him. He picked up well, jumped the last well and quickened all the way to the line.
"It was a disappointing run at Cheltenham, but probably in hindsight two miles is too short for him now. He wants to go further and I imagine the King George will be his target. He was very good today over two and a half, so I suppose you have to try it now.
"You won't know if he will stay until he goes three miles. It's probably a natural progression for him. If he doesn't stay he can always go back for the Ryanair at the Festival. He's a wonderful horse and the step up in trip has helped him."