Seabass will be hard to catch
TED WALSH has opted to drop Seabass down to two miles for tomorrow's Paddypower.com Chase at Naas in an attempt to maintain the nine-year-old's remarkable winning sequence that now stretches back over two years.
Today's two three-mile feature events either side of the Irish Sea had also been on the agenda for a horse that hasn't raced over less than two and a half since October 2008, but Walsh has gone for the €46,500 Grade Two, possibly due to his son Ruby's availability to take the mount.
Then again, he might have simply deemed it the best opportunity.
Apart from Tranquil Sea, none of Seabass' other four rivals will pose a serious threat on current form, and Edward O'Grady's 2009 winner of the sponsor's Cheltenham showpiece is hardly one to avoid.
Well held by Blazing Tempo and Noble Prince -- albeit when conceding weight -- at Fairyhouse, Tranquil Sea might again be vulnerable.
Seabass has 6lb to find with him on official figures but it is not inconceivable that he could do so, given his extraordinary trajectory.
Successful in his final two starts over fences two seasons ago, the Turtle Island gelding missed the last campaign, and got this one under way with a Ballinaboola point-to-point win.
He has gone on to amass another three on the track, none more easily than when hosing up in the Leopardstown Chase under a fantastic ride by the trainer's daughter Katie in January. If Ruby gets a similar tune out of Seabass now, the partnership could prove hard to catch.
The former champion jockey also has claims on Willie Mullins' Felix Yonger in the Grade Two novice hurdle. That Downpatrick scorer is a real contender in this two-miler, but it may be worth giving Texas Jack a chance to redeem himself after a couple of defeats.
Noel Meade's Land Rover bumper victor accounted for Make A Track on his hurdling bow at Clonmel in November, before then coming up short behind Mount Benbulben and Boston Bob in decent races. The Davy Condon-ridden six-year-old has a lot less on his plate now.
In the day's other graded race, the Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase, Condon will attempt to turn around Fairyhouse form with Rathlin on Monastrell, but the former is napped in what is a disappointing renewal.
The Mouse Morris-trained Rathlin has progressed to score twice at Fairyhouse lately following a wind operation. Fellow Gigginstown Stud representative Gates Of Rome, a course winner two weeks ago, isn't without a shout, and neither is Shot From The Hip, should he return to peak form. Right now, however, Davy Russell's chosen partner sets the standard.
Later on, Russell's former point-to-point ally Robert Tyner can take the handicap hurdle with One In A Milan. Philip Enright's mount was a fine second at Limerick after Christmas and this return to three miles ought to suit.
Across at Fontwell, meanwhile, the drying conditions should help Oliver Sherwood's Clerk's Choice get the better of The Knoxs in the featured National Spirit Hurdle.