Prince De Beauchene: 7-1 favourite for the Grand NationalPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Prince De Beauchene lands Bobbyjo spoils
WILLIE MULLINS had won the At The Races Bobbyjo Chase three times in the previous seven years and Prince De Beauchene gave him another victory to become 7-1 favourite for the John Smith's Grand National with Paddy Power.
Paul Townend, on board the Mullins-trained The Midnight Club when victorious 12 months ago, edged the ex-Howard Johnson inmate to the front off a slow pace and came home six lengths clear of the staying-on veteran Black Apalachi.
"He's improving nicely and I'd imagine he'll go on to Aintree from here," said the winning trainer, who won this race with Hedgehunter in 2005 before landing the National.
Bookmakers were quick to cut the Graham Wylie-owned nine-year-old for the big one. Ladbrokes and Boylesports went 10-1 from 16s with bet365 and BetVictor even lower at 8-1.
"I would think he would like better ground looking at the size of his feet," added Mullins.
Trainer Dessie Hughes was unhappy when BHA handicapper Philip Smith decided not to drop the long-absent Black Apalachi's mark for the National.
But the 13-year-old, winner of this race in 2009 and off the track since he finished second in the 2010 National, showed his well-being by running on well to chase home the winner.
Hughes said: "I suppose if he had dropped him 5lb he'd have a great chance in April but he ran well and is an out-and-out stayer. Aintree is a bit away still so I'll find a hurdle race for him next."
McNamara repays O'Driscoll
Insurance broker Timmy O'Driscoll sponsors Robbie McNamara and it was fitting that the Limerick rider gave a bit back aboard his Captain Arceus in the bumper.
The Dublin owner is away skiing and missed the 11-1 chance holding off the renewed effort of the odds-on favourite You Must Know Me.
The winner provided his trainer Hughes with some compensation for the earlier defeats of Minsk and Black Apalachi.
"That was nice to finish the day," said Hughes. "He's a nice sort of horse and is a chaser in the making.