Seabass: stayed on strongly to grab second at Fairyhouse

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

Rock Critic cut for Supreme with easy win

Report: Fairyhouse, Monday

Racegoer's €25 Package Hurdle 2m, inner course

ROCK CRITIC remains unbeaten after two runs over hurdles in readily landing the opening conditions hurdle at Fairyhouse but the performance of last year's John Smith's Grand National third Seabass set as many tongues wagging after the race.

Owned by the Moyglare Stud, the winner was a most authoritative one under Robbie McNamara, taking it up from flagging Make Your Mark before the second last and despite a slightly sloppy jump at the last won handily by just over three lengths. The mistake at the last was the only one he made in the race and the victory did not surprise Dermot Weld.

"He did what I thought he would do," he said, adding: "He would have preferred better ground but I would say that applies to all horses in the race.

"I'll discuss plans with his owner Eva-Marie Haefner. He's entered at Cheltenham but at the moment I feel he might be more of a Fairyhouse or Punchestown horse. He jumped like a stag, exceptionally well. The plan wasn't to get there as soon as he did but his jumping took him there."

Boylesports cut Rock Critic to 16-1 (from 20) for the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

The same firm left Seabass alone at 20-1 for the John Smith's Grand National although he was promoted to the new 14-1 favourite for the race on Betfair's fixed odds betting.

Jockey Ruby Walsh said: "I thought coming away from the third last I was going to struggle big time but all of a sudden he got a second wind and kept at it all the way to the line.

"You would have to be happy with him. He's probably a more mature horse this year. I know he's ten but he has very little racing done."

As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree for the John Smith's Grand National.

A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.

To manage a clear round in the 4m4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.

Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments, Devon Loch's phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon's shock 100-1 win in 1967 and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.

In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injury while jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.

In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs - and that came just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.