Past Winners » Mala Beach


It is not surprising that Acapella Bourgeois was put in as a short-priced favourite for the Troytown Chase as soon as a market was formed.  People have been talking about him since Total Recall danced away with the Munster National last month.

Same owners, same trainer, same switch from the now-retired Sandra Hughes to Willie Mullins.  And it may have the same effect.  Total Recall was raised by 18lb by the handicapper after his Munster National win.

However, good and all as Acapella Bourgeois’ chance is in today’s race, it is unlikely that he has 18lb in hand, and he is priced up as if he has.  He has a big chance, he will love the ground and he does have a touch of class, as he proved in the Ten Up Chase last season, and he is actually rated 6lb lower than he was at his peak, but he is very short.

Mala Beach is a much more attractive betting proposition at three times the favourite’s odds.  Chris Jones’ horse has always been a high-class staying chaser, he was unlucky not to win the Thyestes Chase in January 2016, racing off a mark of 142, and he would have won the Grade 2 Bobbyjo Chase had he not come down at the second last fence the following month. 

He was off the track after the 2016 Irish Grand National, he had an operation to remove a chip in his knee, but he returned at Galway last month and ran a cracker to finish second to A Genie In Abottle.

He exceeded expectations by a fair way that day.  He travelled well through his race, he jumped well, and he looked a real threat to the favourite as they rounded the home turn, but he just couldn’t get past him up the hill.  Even so, it was a massive run.

There is a small chance that he will ‘bounce’ today, which is admittedly a little bit of a concern, but it is more likely that he will improve for that run, his first in a year and a half.  He has had 47 days to recover, and that should be long enough.  More than five weeks is good.

He did have other options, he is entered in the Ladbrokes Trophy (the old Hennessy) next week, and he is in the Welsh National, but the Troytown has been his target since his return.

He races off a handicap rating of 148 today, which is 2lb lower than his peak but, more than that, it is a mark off which he could have a couple of pounds in hand.  The first three places in the Bobbyjo Chase that he probably would have won easily had he not come down were filled by Boston Bob, On His Own and Turban, who were all rated in the 150s at the time – the first two were rated 155 – and that is the type of rating that Mala Beach should be able to reach, or possibly surpass.  He could be an improved horse now with the chip in his knee removed.

He will love the soft ground, he stays well, he has Davy Russell for company, and you know that, trained, as he is, by Gordon Elliott (as are, admittedly, five of his rivals) he will have been primed for today’s race, a race that Elliott has won every year for the last three years.  

General Principle and Whatareudoingtome and Hurricane Darwin and Last Goodbye were also on my shortlist, but it was a long shortlist and I am happy to rely exclusively on Mala Beach.