Bob a rising star as Benbulben fails to scale heights

THOSE of us who had pencilled in Mount Benbulben as a possible Cheltenham festival winner weren’t half left gasping for breath after he was beaten out of the gate by Boston Bob in a Grade 1 hurdle at Navan last Sunday.

Mount Benbulben was a better bumper horse than Boston Bob and his form over flights was far stronger than his rival as well.

Boston Bob started off over jumps in a maiden at Navan last month and coasted to a three and a half lengths success at odds of 4-11.

He was impressive, admittedly, but it looked a dreadful contest and one which would not have been out of place being run at a minor provincial track.

But Willie Mullins has long been a magician and owner, Graham Wylie, must have allowed himself a little smile of satisfaction on Sunday night for having the foresight to send Boston Bob across the Irish Sea when Howard Johnson retired from the game.

I know Mount Benbulben continually jumped away to his right through the race and excuses, that something wasn’t quite right with the horse, were being offered afterwards.

But to my way of thinking, and as someone who did in his dough, I can’t really be having any of that.

Truth to tell, Mount Benbulben looked all over a winner early in the straight, after Boston Bob appeared to be struggling to close him down.

But, of course, the finishing post wasn’t at the top of the lane, but much further up, and by the time it was reached Boston Bob was a whopping four and a half lengths clear of his opponent.

Immediate thought-process was to abandon any notion of Mount Benbulben being on the Cheltenham short-list and he will certainly need to improve enormously on this display.

In contrast, however, Boston Bob has to very much enter calculations now and rumours circulating, prior to the race, that he was working especially well with some of the better horses in Mullins’ proved deadly accurate.

I was a big Mount Benbulben fan prior to this, but suspect Boston Bob will beat him every day in future and, perhaps, twice on a Sunday!

Mullins’ Zaidpour is beginning to really get his act together and could hardly have been more impressive when taking a Grade 2 at Navan. Fears he would not be as effective travelling left-handed proved well wide of the mark and he wasn’t at all inconvenienced.

The key to him surely, outside of the need for deep ground, is two and a half miles or more. He just shapes like a thorough stayer.

**********

THE small margin between being a hero or a villain was never better illustrated than by Don Cossack in the bumper at Navan.

This horse was carrying serious financial responsibilities, having been thumped in from 9-10 to 4-6, in what had the appearances of a decent contest.

But Rory O’Moore, the 25-1 outsider of the seven-horse field, held a huge advantage for most of the journey and seemed to have an unassailable lead with three furlongs to cover.

But a combination of dying a bit in front by Rory O’Moore and a power-packed, surging late burst on the part of Don Cossack saw the favourite grab the long-time leader close home.

Nina Carberry partnered Don Cossack and it was joy all round as she returned in triumph to the winner’s enclosure.

Once Don Cossack was safely home in front most punters probably didn’t give a thought to Carberry’s riding.

But, have no doubt about it, if this had gone pear-shaped, as seemed certain for most of the two miles, she would have been pilloried.

**********

THAT was a bit of an astonishing story regarding commentator, Jim McGrath, which broke this week.

The Aussie, number 1 at the BBC, has long been regarded as one of the best commentators around, but it seems that his racecourse performances are to be reviewed for a period of six months by some panel or other with responsibility for overseeing the racecourse commentators’ roster.

Presumably, should the panel not nod in his favour then McGrath will be turfed out on his ear.

He described his treatment as a ‘humiliation’ and he’s got that right. Mind you it will be nothing compared to the humiliation which could be arriving down the track, should they decide he is surplus to requirements.

At least McGrath is still in charge of both his destiny and dignity. “Shove the job where the sun don’t shine”, for some reason, keeps ringing in my head!

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