Racing superstar returns to Cheltenham for first time in eight years

Master Minded and Cue Card are among the former National Hunt stars heading a glittering line-up of crowd favourites at Cheltenham Festival’s Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) parade.

Lord Windermere, Balthazar King, Annacotty and Saphir Du Rheu are also among the 12 who will parade at 12.30pm on the first day of the Festival (12 March).

The dozen horses taking part have won a combined total of 29 Grade One races and more than £6 million in prize money.

RoR chief executive Di Arbuthnot said they are “very much” looking forward to the parade.

“Due to the outbreak of equine influenza, it has not been straightforward organising this year’s parade and we are grateful to all those who have made it possible, in particular, the owners and riders of the horses involved,” said Ms Arbuthnot.

“It is fantastic to have horses of the calibre of Master Minded and Cue Card parading and promoting the work of RoR.

“Special thanks also to the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust for its generous and on-going support of the RoR parades.”

Master Minded (pictured, top), dual winner of the 2008 and 2009 Queen Mother Champion Chase, will be making his first appearance on a racecourse in more than seven years and the first time he has been to Cheltenham since 2011.

The 16-year-old was retired from racing after sustaining a life-threatening injury in the 2011 King George VI at Kempton. He struck into himself, causing serious tendon damage, and was cared for at Newmarket Equine Hospital.

Equine nurse, Sophie Haylock, was one of the team caring for him and took on the responsibility of looking after and retraining him in 2013. The pair now enjoy competing in local shows and dressage competitions.

“He is a wonderful horse to be around and definitely has an aura about him,” said Sophie.

“The injuries he had were very serious and on leaving hospital we kept him to a carefully devised rehabilitation programme.

He is now enjoying a very happy retirement. I am so grateful to Clive Smith for giving me the opportunity to have ‘Ems’ (Master Minded) at home. Clive keeps in touch and often comes to visit him. I think it is fair to say both horse and rider are excited about going to Cheltenham. I just have not told him he’s going yet!”

Cue Card, who retired in April 2018 aged 12, is in the early stages of retraining.

Cue Card on his way to winning the Ryanair Chase at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival

He is still based at Colin Tizzard’s yard on the Dorset/Somerset border and will be ridden in the parade by Hamir Singh, who looked after him and rode him at exercise during his racing career.

Cue Card’s owner Jean Bishop is considering the possibility of him doing some RoR showing classes in the future.

Sprinter Sacre will be parading the following day (Wednesday, 13 March) at 12.45pm.

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The full line-up for Tuesday’s RoR parade is as follows:

1. Annacotty (showing and showjumping) — ridden by Hannah Bishop
11-year-old by Beneficial, formerly trained by Martin Keighley and Alan King

2. Balthazar King (hunting) — ridden by Stephen Way
15-year-old by King’s Theatre, formerly trained by Philip Hobbs

3. Carruthers (showjumping and team chasing) — ridden by Lily Bradstock
16-year-old by Kayf Tara, formerly trained by Mark Bradstock

4. Cue Card (showing) — ridden by Hamir Singh
13-year-old by King’s Theatre, formerly trained by Colin Tizzard

5. Lord Windermere (showing) — ridden by Elle Greenhalgy
13-year-old by Oscar, formerly trained by Jim Culloty

6. Master Minded (dressage) — ridden by Sophie Haylock
16-year-old by Nikos, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls

7. Monkerty Tunkerty (showing and showjumping) — ridden by Jess Westwood
16-year-old by Silver Patriarch, formally trained by Jess Westwood

8. My Way De Solzen (hunting) — ridden by Cate Mahon
19-year-old by Assessor, formerly trained by Alan King

9. Saphir Du Rheu (team chasing) — ridden by Charlotte Alexander
10-year-old by Al Namix, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls

10. Wayward Prince (dressage and hunting) — ridden by Megan Harper
15-year-old by Alflora, formerly trained by Ian Williams and Hilary Parrott

11. What Of It (showing) — ridden by Hannah Horton
16-year-old by Tel Quel, formerly trained by Tom George and Sarah Ward

12. Zarkandar (hunting) — ridden by Olivia Sims
12-year-old by Azamour, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls

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