Monday 19 March 2018

Seabass enters National frame with Naas victory

Thomas Kelly

SEABASS is in line for a crack at the Aintree Grand National after stretching his unbeaten run to seven in the Chase at Naas.

The four-and-a-half-mile spectacular at Aintree may be a totally different test to this Grade Two contest over two miles -- but trainer Ted Walsh believes it is worth a try.

And Walsh knows what it takes, having tasted National glory in 2000 with Papillon, which 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 to collar Zaarito close to home by a length and complete a double for his jockey Ruby Walsh.

Sent off 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, the former champion jockey 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.

"Maybe some of the other horses weren't as good as they used to be, but he has won €120,000 since he won his point to point! If he stays sound, we'll go to Aintree for the 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 he is the right type."

Walsh knows his son might be committed to a horse at Aintree trained by Willie Mullins or Paul Nicholls. If that's the case, Walsh senior would hand the ride to daughter Katie.

Ruby initiated his double aboard Felix Yonger, which continued owner Graham Wylie's excellent first season with runners in Ireland when taking the Novice Hurdle.

Trained by Willie Mullins, the 2/1 favourite had to work hard for this Grade Two success but was up to the task, coming home three lengths ahead of runner-up Dressedtothenines.

Mullins said: "Coming back in trip was no problem for Felix Yonger. I imagine he'll be good enough to travel (to Cheltenham) if we want to -- he shows plenty of gears at home and I think he'll improve again."

Mullins was expected to complete a double in the bumper with favourite The Paparazzi Kid, but the Ronald O'Neill-trained Rory O'Moore (10/3) made all to edge out the market leader by half a length.

Rathlin completed a hat-trick over fences with a win in the Woodlands Park 100 Club Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase. Always prominent, Davy Russell didn't have to be hard on the 4/5 favourite, which jumped for fun and trotted up by eight and a half lengths from Shot From The Hip.

"Rathlin is an improving sort, was good today and jumped well. He is settling a bit better and that has a lot to do with it, as he was just running himself into the ground previously," said trainer Mouse Morris.

Jessica Harrington's Play The Market (7/2 favourite) made all the running to justify market confidence under Robbie Power in the opening maiden hurdle.

Irish Independent

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