At The Races Bobbyjo Chase
|Grade 2 Handicap, Fairyhouse 15:30
3m 1f, Class 1
|Saturday 24th February 2018
1 Bellshill 8/13F
2 A Genie In Abottle 11/4
3 Val De Ferbet 14/1
5 ran NR: Mala Beach Distances: 4¾l, 8½l
Time: 6m 59.20s (slow by 55.20s)
Willie Mullins favours a crack at the Irish Grand National with Bellshill after making a victorious return to action
The eight-year-old Bellshill had been off the track since finishing a distant third in the 2017 RSA Chase at Cheltenham and despite having a bit to find at the weights in the Grade Three heat, he was still sent off the 8-13 favourite.
Partnered by David Mullins, Bellshill travelled well throughout the three-mile-one-furlong contest and was in control before the last, eventually coming home four and three-quarter lengths clear of A Genie In Abottle with Val De Ferbert third.
Bellshill's task was eased slightly by the withdrawal of Mala Beach, but Paddy Power were impressed enough to cut his Aintree Grand National odds to 14-1 from 25s but Mullins is currently looking towards the Irish equivalent back at this track on April 2.
He said: "He's much stronger this year and he's been going nicely at home, but on their first run back you never know.
"He did it very well. He jumped very well, jumped economically, and came there very strong two from home. He just got a bit idle when he hit the front.
"I was very happy with him. I think he is in all the big handicaps, the English National, Irish National and at Cheltenham. We'll see where we go now.
"I'm looking more at the big handicaps with him. Coming back here to Fairyhouse might be the thing to do on a track that he's shown that he's really at home on.
"The Irish National is early this year and it might be the one."
The At The Races Bobbyjo Steeplechase
€45,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m 1f, Class 1
Going: Soft, Soft to Heavy in places
|Bellshill (IRE) 8/13f
|D J Mullins
|W P Mullins
|A Genie In Abottle (IRE) 11/4
|S W Flanagan
|Val De Ferbet (FR) 14/1
|R M Power
|Champagne Harmony (IRE) 33/1
|D F O'Regan
|S J Mahon
|Lord Scoundrel (IRE) 8/1
|Mala Beach (IRE)
|D N Russell