• Racing/
  • Mullins Sweet On Ballycasey

RSA Chase (Novices' Grade 1) 3m 110y

  • (5yo+, 3m 110y, Class 1, 15 runners)
  • Winner £85,425 2nd £32,055 3rd £16,050 4th £7,995 5th £4,020 6th £2,010
  • Going: Good (Good to Soft in places; Cross Country: Good to Soft, Soft in places)
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 6m 0.30s
  • Off time: 14:05:22
Full result
Result 14:05 Cheltenham
Pos Horse Distance/th> Odds
1st 12 O'faolains Boy 12/1
2nd 15 Smad Place nk 13/2j
3rd 11 Morning Assembly 6 9/1
  • Last Updated: March 11 2014, 17:57 GMT

Ballycasey's blip when falling in a schooling session after racing at Leopardstown has not unduly concerned Willie Mullins ahead of the RSA Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday.

Ballycasey: Carries the confidence of Willie Mullins
Ballycasey: Carries the confidence of Willie Mullins

The seven-year-old has remained ante-post favourite for the three-mile novice championship mainly on the strength of his victory over Don Cossack, who renews rivalry, in the Dr. P.J. Moriarty Novice Chase, also at Leopardstown, a month ago.

"He's been fine since what happened in Leopardstown and while he hasn't won over the trip, he has always indicated to us he's a three miler," said Mullins.

"We're giving him the opportunity to prove that on Wednesday and I think the ground conditions will be ideal for him.

"I loved what he did at Leopardstown, beating two Grade One winners, he did it the hard way and made his own running, jumping from fence to fence. When he was tackled by the two of them he put them away. It was a huge performance."

Ruby Walsh is also keen on Ballycasey's chances.

He said: "He was good in Leopardstown, he beat Don Cossack and Carlingford Lough.

"He's never won over three miles, but we think he's crying out for it."

Don Cossack's trainer Gordon Elliott expects the step up from the two-mile five furlongs of the Moriarty to suit his charge.

"He's in good form and I think the step up in trip will suit him. We'll drop him in and take our time and hope for a good run," he told At The Races.

"He has won a Grade One and been placed in another this season, some lads say he has been disappointing but I certainly don't agree.

"I think the race at Cheltenham and dropping him in and taking our time will suit him.

"He's won twice and been second twice so if every horse we had in the yard was like him we'd be happy.

"He got a couple of niggly problems as a hurdler and had a bad fall at Navan but his form is very good over fences.

"He's a big, laid-back horse and nothing seems to faze him. Obviously you'd be happier if he'd been to Cheltenham before but he's in good form and we're happy."

Morning Assembly enjoyed a half-length verdict over Don Cossack at Punchestown in November but he was then beaten by Carlingford Lough in the Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

"We took him away to the Curragh for an outing which he really enjoyed," said his trainer Pat Fahy.

"I think he's very good but Carlingford Lough is a very good horse as well and very experienced and maybe we were just beaten for experience that day, there were high winds and things like that that would interfere with a novice.

"I think there should be more to come. There shouldn't be any problems with the three miles, he's won over three miles hurdling. A stiffer test will suit him a lot, at Leopardstown it looked like they went steady, maybe he needs a strong pace like Cheltenham to bring out the best in him."

Arguably the main British hope is Alan King's Smad Place, who bounced back after unseating his rider on his chasing debut to win his two subsequent starts at Exeter and Newbury in emphatic fashion.

"I have made no secret of the fact that I think Smad Place is our best chance," the Barbury Castle trainer told www.alankingracing.co.uk.

"His preparation has gone incredibly well and we were delighted with his win at Newbury.

"He schooled very well last week and is in very good order, and I am fairly relaxed in terms of ground as, while he has form in the soft, he handles goodish going no problem. It looks a very competitive race, but we are very pleased with him.

"Smad Place has been to the Festival twice and been placed both times in the World Hurdle, which is a huge advantage.

"His rating is not as high over fences as it was over hurdles but I think that is probably more to do with the fact he has not had the chance to get to that sort of rating over fences yet as I have always thought that he could be an even better chaser."

Corrin Wood has looked good in making all the running on all his three starts over fences this term.

"I'm happy with him, and the handicapper gave him a mark (156) which should make him very competitive," said trainer Donald McCain.

"He was very good at Warwick. He went a little bit right-handed but was good all the same. He doesn't need heavy ground, good to soft, good ground at worst would be fine and I'm looking forward to it."

Sam Winner was beaten two lengths by Smad Place at Newbury but was giving the winner 3lb and they now meet on level terms.

"I kept him purposely off when the ground was really bad in the middle of winter. He has to go left-handed and ran a blinding race at Newbury," said his trainer Paul Nicholls.

"He will improve enormously for that run and better ground. He doesn't need to make the running. If they go a good gallop that will suit him very well."

Nicholls also saddles Black Thunder and Just A Par.

"I don't think Black Thunder was at his best the day he got beat. He'd run and won three times before that. He's just come back to himself and is right in his coat and I'm looking forward to running him."

"I think the best is yet to come from Just A Par and he doesn't want the ground too soft."

Annacotty has solid form, including when winning the Feltham Novices' Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, and is reported to be in tip-top shape by his trainer Martin Keighley.

"He seems in great order, he's got lots of experience and has proved he acts around the track. We've freshened him up since then," said Keighley.

"Being second frustrates me, but his last run was one I was over the moon with. To give Indian Castle 9lb over only two-five when he's better over three, it was an outstanding run."

O'Faolains Boy goes for glory on the back of victory in the Reynoldstown Chase, a recognised trial for the RSA.

"He came out of his win in the Reynoldstown in great shape," said trainer Rebecca Curtis.

"The time before at Haydock came when we had something going through the yard. We're very thankful that Barry Geraghty pulled him up as early as he did because another jockey could have given him a hard race in bad ground.

"That's what you get with the top boys, though. He was scoped at the racecourse and it was very dirty. I think he'll run a really good race."

Many Clouds took second place at Ascot, two and a half lengths behind O'Faolains Boy, and his trainer his realistic about his prospects.

"On ratings he wouldn't be winning, but I think he's entitled to go there with a good each-way chance," said Sherwood.


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