beach can turn tide in bobbyjo; irish action Mala can shore up Grade 3 Chase.
Byline: PETER O'HEHIR
SUITED by the race conditions, Mala Beach looks the one to beat in today's Grade 3 At The Races Bobbyjo Chase in Fairyhouse.
The 2016 Thyestes runner-up, dropping in class following an abortive excursion in the recent Unibet Irish Gold Cup, won by Edwulf, is the highest-rated of the six runners. And set to receive 8lb from his biggest threat, BELLSHILL, this looks an ideal opportunity for the 10-year-old, trained for Chris Jones by Gordon Elliott.
Mala Beach has won twice from 11 starts, over fences, his beginners at Punchestown more than three years ago and the competitive Troytown in Navan in November when racing off 148, he slammed Don't Tell No One.
He fell when in front at the second last in this event two years ago, a race fought out by the Willie Mullins-trained pair Boston Bob and On His Own. Tried in Grade 1 company last time, he was unable to maintain contact with his rivals, made a couple of mistakes and was pulled up before the ninth.
Davy Russell's mount must bounce back from that below par effort. And, at the weights, he must have a massive chance.
A GENIE IN ABOTTLE beat the selection in Galway in October but should have the measure of Noel Meade's charge this time.
And Bellshill, winner of two of his four chases, including a Grade 2 novice event at Limerick, looks the biggest danger to Mala Beach in a race his trainer Willie Mullins has won five times in the last seven years.
Bellshill hasn't been seen since finishing third behind Gold Cup favourite Might Bite and Whisper in the Grade 1 RSA at Cheltenham last March.
That looks stand-out form. But, rated 150, he's set to concede 8lb to 156-rated Mala Beach, which looks a tough task.
The Willie Mullinstrained Cadmium should be tough to beat in the Irish Stallion Farms Beginners Chase if building on his chase debut third behind stable-companions Bonbon Au Miel and Turcagua at Navan.
The six-year-old, successful in a Limerick maiden hurdle on his only previous start for Mullins - he beat Call The Taxie (currently rated 125) - tired in the closing stages and was beaten a long way in the Navan race.
He looks certain to improve from that outing and is preferred to Elliott's chasing debutant VEINARD, a 126-rated hurdler that has proven hard to win with.
Veinard should prove a better chaser, but, on this occasion, might have to settle for minor honours behind Cadmium.
The bumper might develop into a head-to-head between the Mullins and Elliott representatives as point-to-point winners STAY HUMBLE (won at MONKSGRANGE last April) and Sometime Soon (Kirkistown in November) clash.
And preference is for the well-regarded Stay Humble.
WEIGHT OF EXPECTATION Mala Beach will receive 8lb from his nearest rival Bellshill at Fairyhouse this afternoon