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Master Oats, who died in 2012, at the age of 28, after a long and happy retirement, is best remembered for winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1995. In so doing, he completed a famous big race double for trainer Kim Bailey and jockey Norman Williamson, who’d won the Champion Hurdle with Alderbrook two days earlier.
In the early part of his career, Master Oats hardly looked a champion, but a bad bleed after winning at Uttoxeter prompted a change of training tactics, which set him on the road to Cheltenham glory. At a rain-sodden Prestbury Park, he was sent off 100/30 favourite, but after a couple of unsettling mistakes at the eighth and ninth fences, made a monumental blunder at the eleventh, which Norman Williamson was lucky to survive. Survive he did, though, and Master Oats led after the second last and drew away in the closing stages to beat his old rival, the mare Dubacilla, by 15 lengths.
All in all, Master Oats won 10 of his 21 starts over fences, including the Rehearsal Chase at Chepstow, the Coral Welsh National at Newbury (transferred from Chepstow) and the Pillar Property Investments Chase at Cheltenham, as well as the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in the same 1994/95 season. His Timeform Annual Rating of 183 is the same as more recent Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Denman and Don Cossack and 1lb superior to Best Mate.
Master Oats also ran three times in the Grand National. He fell for the only time in his career at the second last fence on the first circuit in 1994, but finished seventh on his attempt to become the first horse since Golden Miller to complete the Cheltenham Gold Cup – Grand National double in 1995 and fifth, under 11st 10lb, on his final racecourse in 1997.