Prince likely to show plenty of improvement

PRINCE de Beauchene isn’t well treated at the weights, but still rates the nap choice in the Grade 2 At The Races Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse this afternoon.

Formerly in the care of Howard Johnson, he is now trained by Willie Mullins and has had just one outing for the Carlow handler, in the Troytown Chase at Navan in late November.

He carried top weight then, the steadier of 11-10, and ran a cracker to finish fifth behhind Groody Hill. What was impressive was the manner in which he stayed on from the back of the final fence and plenty of improvement is likely to be forthcoming.

Highest rated horse is the dual Kerry National winner, Alfa Beat, and he has a theoretical 12lbs in hand of the selection.

But one strongly suspects that’s very much an inflated estimation of his ability and, with real doubts about all of the other contestants, Prince de Beauchene looks easily the most reliable proposition.

A lot of interest will centre on the eagerly awaited debut over flights of the Dessie Hughes-trained Minsk in the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle.

A costly Barry Connell purchase out of John Oxx’s, he won three in-a-row on the flat, including the Irish Cesarewitch at the Curragh, and has been a talking horse for some time.

Minsk is reported to be doing everything right at home, but will surely go off at cramped odds and represents a yard that is right out form at the moment.

The nod falls on Noel Meade’s Bat Masterson, who revelled in the testing conditions, and seemed to benefit from the application of blinkers, when making a lot of the running to slam Midnight Oil at Naas.

Ninetieth Minute, a little disappointing when only third behind Gates Of Rome and Shinrock Paddy at Naas, may be worth another chance in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Beginners Chase.

At Naas tomorrow the progressive Rathlin gets the nap in the Woodlands Park 100 Club Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase.

A minor operation to assist his wind has worked wonders for Mouse Morris’ seven-year-old.

This bold front-runner has won well of late on two occasions at Fairyhouse and will take plenty of pegging back.

Ted Walsh’s Seabass has won his last six races, including a point-to-point, and may crop up again in the paddypower.com Chase.

Two miles is undoubtedly on the short side, but he’s in rare form, which is more than can be said for four of his five rivals, the exception being Gentle Alice, who isn’t suited by the conditions of the race.

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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