Du Mee upsets National fancies in Bobbyjo Chase
Report: Fairyhouse, Saturday
At The Races Bobbyjo Chase (Grade 2) 3m1f, 5yo+
ROI DU MEE forged clear of leading John Smith's Grand National contenders Prince De Beauchene and Seabass after the last fence to clinch victory for Gordon Elliott, Davy Russell and Gigginstown House Stud.
He led from the outset and stayed on strongly to see off last year's winner Prince De Beauchene and last season's Grand National third Seabass.
Roi Du Mee was subsequently cut to 20-1 (from 50) with Paddy Power for the Aintree showpiece, which Elliott landed with Silver Birch in 2007. He is also 25-1 for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham with William Hill.
Seabass, who made an encouraging return to action at the track earlier in the month, was cut for the Grand National with Hills, who rate him 10-1 co-favourite (from 12) with the Willie Mullins-trained pair On His Own and Prince De Beauchene.
Elliott said: "He's been a terrific horse for us, tremendously consistent. We put a tongue-strap on him today and that seemed to bring about a little improvement. He's in the Ryanair and the National; we hadn't really looked much beyond today."
Russell seemed intent on leading from the start, but he was shadowed by Prince De Beauchene throughout. Seabass, Rare Bob and Oscar Time - runner-up in the National two years ago - watched on from the rear.
Prince De Beauchene - sent off the 8-11 favourite - jumped neatly throughout, bar one significant error down the back straight, and made headway to join the leader approaching the second-last fence.
Seabass also began to make ground and threatened to play a leading role up the home straight, but Roi Du Mee met the last on a perfect stride and cleared away by a length. He stayed on strongly up the stands' side rail to see off the pursuers at 5-1.
Despite finishing second, Mullins was pleased with the performance of the Andrea and Graham Wylie-owned Prince De Beauchene. The trainer said: "He ran a bit with the choke out, a bit fresh. I'm not disappointed and I hope that'll bring him on. Bar one mistake he jumped well."
Ted Walsh was also pleased with Seabass' third-placed effort, and said: "I'm happy with that. Katie [Walsh] said he'd a good blow between the last two. He ran right up to his mark."
Reflecting on the big-race market moves, William Hill spokesman Richard Thomas said: "Roi Du Mee jumped well and made all the running to win the Bobbyjo and merited a significant cut in our market on the Grand National. Having been 50-1 before the race, we are only 20-1 for the Grand National.
"Seabass put up another good effort, despite not always being fluent, and is now one of our three co-favourites."