Blazing and Tranquil to duel at Naas ahead of Cheltenham
Willie Mullins' redoubtable Galway Plate heroine Blazing Tempo heads a potentially decent cast for Sunday's Paddypower.com Chase at Naas.
A Grade Two conditions race that was won last year by Mullins' ill-fated Golden Silver, the two-mile €46,500 contest has attracted nine contenders in all, though the Edward O'Grady-trained Tranquil Sea is the only other that currently holds a Cheltenham Festival entry. Both horses are engaged in next month's Ryanair Chase, with the champion trainer's prolific mare also in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Blazing Tempo made light of testing ground to score for a third time on the spin when denying Noble Prince at Fairyhouse last month. Should she turn out at Naas, she is likely to encounter similar conditions, with the going described as soft, soft to heavy in places.
Also among the entry for Sunday's feature is Ted Walsh's Seabass, which has now won five on the spin over more than two years. Like Blazing Tempo, Seabass is in the Grand National at Aintree on April 14, though it remains to be seen where he will turn up this weekend, with Walsh stressing that a possible tilt at the valuable Racing Plus Chase at Kempton on Saturday would be dependent on suitably safe ground.
Seabass also has the option of taking in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on Saturday.
On the undercard at Naas, Walsh's JP McManus-owned Colbert Station, a winner at Leopardstown last time, is among 11 in the Woodlands Park 100 Club Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase. Noel Meade's Paddy Power Chase victor Cross Appeal could also take in that Grade Two.
Meanwhile, the death has been announced of Royal Academy at his Coolmore Stud base in Australia. Trained by Vincent O'Brien to win the July Cup in 1990, the son of Nijinsky, 25 years of age when he died, became part of Breeders' Cup folklore when taking the Mile under an inspired Lester Piggott drive at Belmont Park the same year.
O'Brien's final international Group One success, the occasion attracted global interest at the time as Piggott, then 54, had only just returned from a year in prison for tax evasion.