Tuesday 19 March 2019

'Magic' can light up the Bobbyjo, with 'Mate' the chosen one in Naas

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy may have swerved today's Grade Three BetVictor Bobbyjo Chase (4.0) at Fairyhouse to head straight to the Cheltenham Festival but there's still plenty of intrigue at the Meath track.

Ground conditions scuppered the chance to see Pat Kelly's star chaser - which will bid for blue-riband honours next month having not jumped a fence in public this season - but the remaining cast of seven in the €45,000 contest are no slouches.

Willie Mullins has dominated proceedings with six of the last eight winners and last year's winner Bellshill went on to Irish Gold Cup success earlier this month and is a leading fancy to burst the bubble of Presenting Percy in the English equivalent.

Having seen what Aintree Grand National hero Tiger Roll did last weekend, it would be foolish to write off runner-up Pleasant Company - winner of this race two years ago - but Rathvinden looks the leading Closutton fancy.

Surprise

It would be a mild surprise, however, if last year's Cheltenham Festival scorer were to prevail first time out under Paul Townend as the Mullins string have tended to need the run on their seasonal reappearance due to the unseasonably dry weather.

The form of Gordon Elliott's Thyestes Chase second Alpha Des Obeaux is the best on offer and warrants respect but this may go to an improving sort and Magic Of Light fits the bill on many levels.

Jessica Harrington's eight-year-old mare has thrived this season with her Troytown third quickly built upon with three trips across the Irish Sea yielding success at Grade Two and Listed level.

With the step up to 3m1f sure to suit, Robbie Power's mount looks an attractive prospect at the weights and may take some stopping.

The earlier Grade Three Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle (2.15) is a puzzler with many unknown quantities but it may pay to take an each-way chance on Tom Mullins' Our Legend, which has improved with every run and may land a blow with son David in the plate.

There will be plenty of Cheltenham clues at Naas tomorrow with several Festival entries and one of those can score in the Grade Two Paddy Power Onside App Novice Hurdle (3.0).

Chosen Mate lost little in defeat when just gunned down by the classy Sinoria in a Listed event two weeks ago and Elliott's six-year-old looks capable of even better under champion jockey Davy Russell.

Doctor Phoenix landed the Grade Three WhatOddsPaddy? Chase (3.35) in good style for the Meath trainer last year but the 11-year-old hasn't looked the same horse this season and may need more give in the ground.

Elliott is double-handed with Tycoon Prince also taking his chance but this looks an ideal opportunity for Mullins's consistent Cadmium to add another success at this level.

Townend's mount has made the frame in some decent chases this season - fourth behind Delta Work, Le Richebourg and Jetz in the Drinmore - and comes here in good form, so the improving seven-year-old is favoured to score.

The €50,000 Paddy Power Novice Handicap Chase (2.30) is the most valuable prize of the day but a lottery with the majority of the 13 runners holding realistic claims, so a tentative vote goes to Joseph O'Brien's Uisce Beatha.

The JP McManus-owned six-year-old got off the mark over fences at the fourth time of asking when bounding further clear of the reopposing Impact Factor as the line approached at Fairyhouse last month and the step up to 2m4f should suit JJ Slevin's mount.

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