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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

After pain of losing stars, Jones hopeful Mala Beach can bring Gold Cup joy

Mala Beach: will take his chance in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown
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The pain of losing top-notch performers Mega Fortune and Zabana still lingers, but new dreams abound for prominent owner Chris Jones, who is plotting an ambitious plan to run Troytown Chase winner Mala Beach in the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival on Sunday.

Mala Beach had spent more than a year and a half on the sidelines after having a bone removed from his knee before returning to top form in the €100,000 Troytown Chase in November, but hasn't raced since.

The ten-year-old, twice a winner at Grade 2 level over hurdles as a young horse, has become notoriously tricky to keep sound in recent seasons but remains a high-quality performer on his favoured heavy ground.

Jones, who reports the Gordon Elliott-trained chaser in rude health, revealed his staying star is a likely runner at Leopardstown on Sunday, weather permitting.

Chris Jones with Mala Beach after victory in the Troytown Chase

He said: “It’s been a tough year and we’ve had two big setbacks but other than that we’ve had a good time of it and winning the Troytown Chase with Mala Beach was fantastic.

“I suggested to Gordon that we make two opportunistic entries in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, just in case it came up bottomless on either occasion.

"It will happen one of these years, and I just said I’d rather we made the entry rather than thinking we should have made it.

“Assuming we don’t get a dry week he’ll probably run on Sunday. He’s had two years of problems and to come back and do what he did in the Troytown was extraordinary.

"He still has a bit to find on the leading staying chasers, but he’s a ten-year-old now and I think it’s worth taking the chance.”

Jones, a successful businessman and board member at Leopardstown, is hoping to be well represented at the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival with a supporting team of Ben Dundee, Paloma Blue and Ordinary World to look forward to.

He added: “The festival has been extremely well received and, as a consequence, every race looks extremely competitive.

"Unlike Mala Beach, Paloma Blue would probably be better on nicer ground – you can’t have it every way! He’ll go for the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle and that race looks very hot.

“We also have Ben Dundee and Ordinary World to look forward to and it promises to be a fantastic weekend. I'm really looking forward to it.”

Unibet Irish Gold Cup card

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He’s had two years of problems and to come back and do what he did in the Troytown was extraordinary
E.W. Terms
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