Seabass gets warmed up for Aintree bid
Last year's Aintree Grand National third Seabass confirmed himself a major contender for this season's renewal with a fine comeback run over hurdles at Fairyhouse.
The Ted Walsh-trained 10-year-old was joint-favourite for the world's most famous steeplechase last April and gave the trainer's daughter Katie Walsh a fantastic spin to be beaten just five lengths.
Making his first appearance since the big race, Seabass ran on strongly to fill the runner-up spot behind Dermot Weld's impressive Rock Critic.
The Willie Mullins-trained Make Your Mark was the 4/6 market leader for the two-mile conditions hurdle, but Rock Critic was travelling much the better of the pair as they turned for home.
Once given his head by Robbie McNamara, Weld's charge scooted clear to make it two from two over obstacles by three and three-quarter lengths.
Seabass was predictably outpaced as the front pair quickened into the straight, but finished well under Ruby Walsh to grab the runner-up spot from a disappointing Make Your Mark.
Walsh Snr was understandably delighted with the performance. "I'm happy with him. He'll run somewhere in three weeks' time. He has loads of options," he said.
"The plan is to give him another run and then go straight to Aintree. He has fragile old legs and you wouldn't want to be abusing him."
Rock Critic was cut to 12/1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle but Weld warned he was not a certain starter at Cheltenham.
The Paul Nolan-trained Defy Logic routed the opposition in the two-mile maiden hurdle. The 4/6 favourite made all the running to win by 34 lengths and is now a live Cheltenham prospect.
In the other maiden hurdle, Irish Grand National-winning trainer Tom Gibney was on the mark with Balnagon Boy which won under Adrian Heskin, while Paul Carberry guided Noel Brett's Dactik to take the novices' handicap hurdle.