Paddy Power Column: Chances galore with Bangalore Diamond

SATURDAY’S Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse provided a few English National clues with the first three home all entered for the Aintree extrvaganza in April.

SATURDAY’S Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse provided a few English National clues with the first three home all entered for the Aintree extrvaganza in April.

We cut the winner Roi Du Mee to 20-1 (from 50), but I think the one to take out of the race was last year’s National third Seabass who we also trimmed into 12-1 (from 14).

Ted Walsh’s charge may not have got his head in front as he did in the paddypower.com Chase at Naas a year ago, but connections will be delighted that he stayed on really well on the run-in and ran up to his handicap mark with the two in front both being rated marginally better than him.

I expect that that will be the last we see of him now until Liverpool when wily Walsh will attempt to go two places better than in 2012. A little lower key here this week but nonetheless I’m hoping trainer Tom McCourt will unleash Bangalore Diamond again in Friday evening’s www.dundalkstadium.com Handicap.

This fella really seems to like Dundalk, winning a handicap there over the same six-furlong trip earlier this month when Ben Curtis managed to get him where it mattered on the line to register a short-head success over Sophies Echo.

He is now three wins and two places from just 10 starts at the track and I think that he can win again, especially as he didn’t appear to travel particularly well during that last race. He’s certainly game and if he can move better during Friday’s heat, he’ll have a wonderful chance of improving an already fine record at the course.

It’s amazing but the flat turf season is not far away now and one horse that I’m really looking forward to seeing in action is Dermot Weld’s Sapphire who could make up into a genuine Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe contender this year.

This Medicean mare won the British Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes at Ascot last October and I am absolutely convinced that she is top-class and will win at the highest level this year.

Meanwhile Dermot has strong claims in Sunday’s Killiney Bumper at Leopardstown where I think he will be fielding Grecian Tiger.

This fellow made an impressive winning debut at Naas in January when he was a length too powerful for Totally Dominant, coasting into the lead approaching the final furlong and then getting tired in the closing stages under amateur Robbie McNamara but still doing just enough.

Weld confided afterwards that he had expected his runner to win and that he will appreciate much better ground than the soft to heavy surface that day so the better weather and drying ground over the last week or so will have warmed the cockles of his heart.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if McNamara holds on to his mount longer this time as there was a suspicion that he might have hit the front too soon at Naas and this looks the perfect race for him as winners of one previous bumper are allowed to take part.

Southampton lost 4-2 to Newcastle on Sunday but I think the final score slightly flattered the home side and I’m going to opt for the Saints to beat QPR at home on Saturday at 10-11.

Sure Southampton’s much talked about pressing game does sometimes leave them vulnerable at the back but they were too good for Manchester City in their last home game and I don’t think QPR will offer up half as much resistance.

They currently sit six points adrift at the bottom of the table and I have been disappointed with their Moroccan superstar Adel Taarabt who has only netted four times this season which is not enough.

Selections

Friday, Dundalk 6.20pm Bangalore Diamond; Saturday St Mary’s Stadium 3pm Southampton to beat QPR; Sunday Leopardstown 5.10pm Grecian Tiger