Blackstairmountain strikes the front on the run-in for Paul Townend
©Healy Racing Photos
By Alan Magee
Willie Mullins has grand plans for Blackstairmountain with a valuable target in the far east later this season after the 4/7 shot took the McCarthy Insurance Group in workmanlike fashion.
The versatile gelding, a Grade 1 winner both over hurdles and fences, scored twice on the Flat last summer and brought his career tally to ten wins in this two-mile event.
Tactics often play a major role in small field events and, with just five going to post in the absence of both Joxer (sore back) and Bombadero (stone bruise), Fosters Cross set a searching pace.
Davy Condon built up a sizeable lead on the veteran before halfway, and still held a clear advantage early in the straight.
However the”jolly” and Arnaud, who made a costly blunder three out, reeled him in by the last and Blackstairmountain soon struck the front to beat Arnaud (4/1) by three quarters of a length. Foster Cross (13/2) was a gallant length and three quarters further back in third.
Mullins said, "“We’ll keep it to those type of races with him until the ground gets better. We’re going to aim him at the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan in April.
“The ground conditions over there will suit him and he’s a Grade 1 horse. He’s the only one I have for the race, although it will be quite costly to send him out there.”
Townend said, “He was the horse to beat but was made work. The ground was probably a bit dead for him.”
Additional reporting by Thomas Weekes