Master Dino leapt to the head of the betting for the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival with an impressive display at Plumpton on Sunday, putting connections in line for a £60,000 bonus.
Last season’s French champion four-year-old hurdler beat a talented field in the extended 2m3f novices’ chase, who were attracted by the bonus scheme, in which any horse that wins one of five nominated novice chases at the East Sussex track before going on to Cheltenham Festival success in the same season.
The bonus was last won by Arkle winner Voy Por Ustedes in 2006, but the way the Daryl Jacob-partnered Master Dino reeled in Knocknanuss suggests that Guillaume Macaire’s gelding might be the next.
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Master Dino tracked Knocknanuss throughout the early part of the race before pouncing two from home and clearing away from the field.
GentingBet were vastly impressed, making Master Dino the new 6/1 favourite (from 16/1) for the 2m4f JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in March
Macaire told Sky Sports Racing: “The next step is Sandown, then the middle distance (JLT) at Cheltenham.
“In my opinion, the Arkle could be too fast for him. He used to be a bit keen at home, but I’ve worked a lot on relaxing him – so now he won’t understand if we ask him to do that.
“We’ve worked many months to have a horse able to manage his potential himself – so it would be silly to try to do the reverse.
“I will enter him anyway in the Arkle, but the target is the middle distance. That’s the logical (step).”
He added: “The ground is rarely deep at Cheltenham, so this experience will be very useful – because he’s shown he’s able to follow a good pace but also has stamina.
“He stays and was not tired at all after the race – which is a good sign.”
The next stop for Master Dino is likely to be the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown on February 2.
Winning rider Jacob felt that Master Dino will be better suited to that track than he was at Plumpton. He said: “I just said to Guillaume and Anthony (Bromley) everything was against him today – track, the ground – it was all against him, and he still pulled up on top.
“That’s phase one over with now, and we can look forward to the Scilly Isles – which I think he will be much more suited to.
“The whole experience is what we wanted. He’s passed it.”