Walsh angling for Aintree with Seabass

Seabass is in line for a crack at the John Smith's Grand National after stretching his unbeaten run to seven in the paddypower.com Chase at Naas today.

Seabass is in line for a crack at the John Smith's Grand National after stretching his unbeaten run to seven in the paddypower.com Chase at Naas today.

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, who 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 in determined fashion to collar Zaarito close home by a length.

Sent off the 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, Ruby Walsh 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 was won 120,00 euro since he won his point to point and that's not bad!

"If he stays sound, we'll go to Aintree for the Grand 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 looking at him he is the right type.

"However, the biggest problem is keeping him sound - he has been on the 'scrap heap' three times already."

Walsh acknowledged that his son might be committed to a horse at Aintree trained either by Willie Mullins or Paul Nicholls, and he rode Prince De Beauchene to National favouritism at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

Should that be the case, Walsh senior would hand the ride to his daughter, Katie.

He added: "The choice will be Ruby's and he rides for Willie (Mullins) or Paul (Nicholls) but if for some reason they went by the wayside he might decide to ride this fellow. If he doesn't, I have a very able substitute in Katie."

Seabass, who has been allotted 10st 12lb for the National, was cut to 16-1 from 33s with Stan James for the Aintree showpiece. Spokesman Joseph Burke said: "Seabass appears to be thriving on racing this season.

"He's been an absolute revelation and is now 16-1 to win a second grand National at Aintree for legendary trainer Ted Walsh."

Paddy Power opened a book on what Walsh will ride at Aintree, going 1-3 Prince De Beauchene, 5-1 Seabass, 7-1 On His Own and also 7-1 any other horse than those three.

Walsh junior had earlier struck on Felix Yonger, who continued owner Graham Wylie's fine first season with runners in Ireland when landing the spoils in the paddypower.com Novice Hurdle.

The Mullins-trained 2-1 favourite had to work hard for this Grade Two success but was up to the task, coming home three lengths to the good from Dressedtothenines.

"He is a super mover and I don't think he is a winter horse - I think he'll be better on better ground in the spring," said Mullins.

"I imagine he'll be good enough to travel (to Cheltenham) if we want to but I'll have a word with Mr Wylie and see what he wants to do.

"Ruby always thought he would have no trouble staying but he is well able to compete over two miles on better ground. He shows plenty of gears at home and I think he'll improve again."

Stan James cut Felix Yonger to 25-1 from 40-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, 25-1 from 33s for the Neptune and were unchanged at 33-1 for the Albert Bartlett.

Rathlin completed a hat-trick over fences with a convincing victory in the Woodlands Park 100 Club Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase.

Taking over from the pace-making Imperial Shabra after six out, the Mouse Morris-trained seven-year-old oozed class as he strolled to an emphatic success.

Davy Russell did not have to be hard on the 4-5 favourite who jumped for fun and trotted up by eight and a half lengths from Shot From The Hip.

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

"I've no big plans, but we could possibly go for something like the Power Gold Cup with him.

"He'll get three miles no problem and we'll just freshen him up a bit now. I think he'll go on any ground as he is a good-actioned horse."

Play The Market made all the running to justify market confidence in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet 1800 721 721 Maiden Hurdle at Naas.

Robbie Power dictated affairs from flag fall on the Jessica Harrington-trained 7-2 favourite to win without being seriously challenged by three lengths from Spot Fine.

"I knew Play The Market would run well but I was a bit worried today's race was only two miles as I thought it would be stiff enough for him," said Harrington.

"We'll look for a two-and-half-mile handicap at Fairyhouse or Punchestown for him next."

Idarah (14-1) could be headed the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase at Cheltenham after battling on gamely in the hands of Nina Carberry to take the Paddy Power Last Man Standing Handicap Hurdle by a neck from Rocky Wednesday.

Cashman said: "He schooled at Fairyhouse last Thursday and he went great and did a nice bit of work during the week but it is four months since he has run.

"He hates that bad ground and hopefully he'll get nicer ground at Cheltenham. He's in a few races there but we'll be leaning towards the Grand Annual Chase."

Kieran Purcell's Paddy Pub (14-1) ground out a neck victory over Castle Wings in the Book Online At naasracecourse.com Handicap Hurdle, while Rory O'Moore (100-30) foiled the Mullins hot-pot The Paparrazi Kid in the Paddy Power Mobile INH Flat Race for trainer Ronald O'Neill and his amateur rider son, John.

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