Ted Walsh set to saddle up for Grand national after Seabass win at Naas
ALL roads again lead to Aintree and the John Smith's Grand National for Ted Walsh after Seabass stretched his unbeaten run to seven in the paddypower.com Chase at Naas.
The four-and-a-half-mile spectacular may be a totally different test to this Grade Two contest over two miles - but Walsh knows what it takes, having tasted National glory in 2000 with the gambled-on Papillon, who had finished fourth in this race in his glory season.
Seabass had to show battling qualities, as well as a touch of class, when rallying in determined fashion to collar Zaarito close home by a length.
Sent off the 5-4 favourite, Seabass cut out the running with Saludos but Zaarito looked like he had timed his run to perfection when going on between the last two fences.
However, Ruby Walsh got a tremendous late effort out of the nine-year-old to get up in the dying strides, much to the delight of his syndicate of owners, who hail from Co. Galway.
"Seabass got under the last but was gutsy. He was out of his comfort zone over two miles and was going faster than he wanted to go, but battled well," said the trainer.
"If he stays sound, we'll go to Aintree for the Grand National.
"There's no ideal type of horse for that race, you won't know until you get there.
"Nobody knows if he'll get the trip, he's never been beyond three miles, but I imagine looking at him he is the right type.
"However, the biggest problem is keeping him sound - he has been on the 'scrap heap' three times already."
Walsh acknowledged that his son might be committed to a horse at Aintree trained either by Paul Nicholls or Willie Mullins, who saddled the Graham Wylie-owned Prince De Beauchene to National favouritism at Fairyhouse on Saturday.
Should that be the case, Walsh senior would hand the ride to his daughter, Katie.
He added: "The choice will be be Ruby`s and he rides for Willie (Mullins) or Paul (Nicholls) but if for some reason they went by the wayside he might decide to ride this fellow. If he doesn't, I have a very able substitute in Katie."
Seabass, who has been allotted 10st 12lb for the National, was cut to 16-1 from 33s with Stan James.
Paddy Power opened a book on what Walsh will ride at Aintree, going 1-3 Prince De Beauchene, 5-1 Seabass, 7-1 On His Own and also 7-1 any other horse than those three.
Walsh junior had earlier struck on Felix Yonger, who continued owner Wylie's fine first season with runners in Ireland when landing the spoils in the paddypower.com Novice Hurdle.
The Mullins-trained 2-1 favourite had to work hard for this Grade Two success but was up to the task, coming home three lengths to the good from Dressedtothenines.
"He is a super mover and I don't think he is a winter horse - I think he'll be better on better ground in the spring," said Mullins.
"I imagine he'll be good enough to travel (to Cheltenham) if we want to but I'll have a word with Mr Wylie and see what he wants to do.
"Ruby always thought he would have no trouble staying but he is well able to compete over two miles on better ground. He shows plenty of gears at home and I think he'll improve again."
Stan James cut Felix Yonger to 25-1 from 40-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, 25-1 from 33s for the Neptune and were unchanged at 33-1 for the Albert Bartlett.
Mouse Morris' Rathlin completed a hat-trick over fences with a convincing victory in the Woodlands Park 100 Club Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase.