Monday 18 December 2017

McNamara's beat can call the right tune for Byrnes

Julian Muscat

It seems absurd to suggest that the day's best bet has 16 others to beat in a race for amateur riders over four miles, but on a potentially big day for Ireland, Alfa Beat should take plenty of stopping in the National Hunt Chase (1.30).

In Robbie McNamara, the selection has one of the best amateur riders in the business.

Charles Byrnes, who trains Alfa Beat, has kept the horse fresh ever since his convincing victory in the Kerry National in September. But the shrewd trainer almost certainly had this race in mind before then, since McNamara rode the horse to win over hurdles at Limerick in July.

That was the third in a sequence of five victories Alfa Beat has posted since he joined Byrnes last summer. The seven-year-old is plainly at his best on decent ground, and even though further improvement seems assured, he still features among the highest-raced in a race with plenty of Irish runners.

One of them, Chicago Grey, has the strongest form in the book. He split Time For Rupert and Racing Post Chase winner Quinz over this course in December, and although trainer Gordon Elliott was pleased enough with his last run on heavy ground at Leopardstown, this extreme trip may find him out.

Sona Sasta and Willie Mullins' Some Target are others to consider, but Alfa Beat cannot be opposed.

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