Monday 18 December 2017

'Bass can hook the National

WILLIE Mullins' Prince De Beauchene has prised his way to clear favourite for the Aintree Grand National by winning Saturday's At The Races Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse.

However, another major mover in that market was yesterday's Naas winner Seabass, who took his triumphant sequence to seven when claiming the paddypower.com Chase at Woodlands Park.

The success of the nine-year-old was an extremely game one as he looked beat for a split second on the run in, but rallied under a typically demon ride from Ruby Walsh to deny Zaarito by a length.

Yesterday's two-mile trip was certainly on the short side for Seabass, but Ted Walsh has done a simply fantastic job with this horse and placing him here, despite clear concerns over the distance, epitomises the job he has done to rack up seven on the bounce.

The father and son duo of Ted and Ruby teamed up to win this race at their local track when Papillon was victorious 13 years ago, just over a year before he went to Aintree for a famous Grand National win.

Two miles around Naas, as stiff and challenging as it may be on soft ground, is a far cry from 4m4f over the National fences at Aintree, but that is now top of the Seabass agenda.

Walsh senior is expecting daughter Katie to return to the saddle and deputise for Ruby, who will more than likely have to ride for either Willie Mullins or Paul Nicholls, but that transition of jockeys has worked well on two occasions already this season so there will certainly be no qualms should it be the case in April.

Between now and then, the Walsh family and Seabass' fortunate owners, the Gunner Syndicate, will anxiously cross the days off the calendar and hope problems similar to those that have meant the son of Turtle Island has been difficult to train and lightly raced over the last five or so years stay away. Breaks of 18 months, 13 months and almost 22 months have littered his career, but connections clearly knew he was worth persisting with and are now deservedly reaping the rewards.

His latest Lazarus-like return to action came back in November, when he won an 'Open' at Ballinaboola Point-to-Point, with Peter Flood doing the steering after his most lengthy lay-off.



lucrative

Since then Ruby was onboard when he justified favouritism at Punchestown over 2m6f, Katie did the steering at Limerick and Leopardstown for lucrative prizes over 2m4f and 2m5f, and Ruby took over again yesterday.

Ladbrokes is the place to go if you think Seabass can emulate Papillon and go on to Aintree success this coming April, as they still go 20/1, while other firms are more impressed and quote only 14/1. His tenderness would have to be a concern to ante-post players but, betting aside, Seabass currently tops the National shortlist for this scribe.

Seabass holds two Cheltenham Festival entries, the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase on Tuesday, and the Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase on Thursday, and he was naturally cut for both after yesterday.

If he never wins again he'll have done all those connected with him proud.

Seven on the bounce, a rise in the weights from 90 to winning off a mark of 144 yesterday, and prize money of over €120,000 since November.

As long as he stays sound, winning again is surely within his capabilities.

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