Racing: O'Dwyer still counts on winning the War

When you have as many medals pinned to your chest as Conor O'Dwyer, you do not mind losing the odd skirmish so long as the war can still be won. A less experienced jockey might be distraught after being beaten on both his most cherished mounts within 24 hours, but O'Dwyer knows that neither War Of Attrition nor Hardy Eustace was diminished by defeat over the weekend.

True, both bumped into legitimate new challengers, In Compliance and Detroit City each graduating boldly from their promising novice seasons. But a proven aptitude for its very different demands mean that War Of Attrition and Hardy Eustace probably retain superior claims for the Cheltenham Festival in March.

War Of Attrition, such a decisive winner of the Gold Cup, was beaten for the second time in barely a month in the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown yesterday. But while In Compliance was impressive, jumping and galloping with gusto under Barry Geraghty and taking charge of a strong field with three to jump, War Of Attrition offered little cause for anxiety.

So much livelier on good ground, he will have detested conditions - as indeed he did when routed in the same race a year ago.

He also looked as though he will be more comfortable going left-handed, repeatedly swaying across his fences. But he still managed to snarl at In Compliance, confining the margin to two and a half lengths, the pair clear, without enduring an unnecessarily severe race.

Mouse Morris was satisfied enough. "I'm not disappointed," the trainer said. "He doesn't jump as well as he can in that ground, but we knew that beforehand." What could not have been certain was how far In Compliance might sustain his exciting start over fences. Having missed much of last season and then been kept to shorter distances, he arrived as one of the least exposed chasers on the scene.

"He has finally come of age," his trainer, Michael O'Brien, said. "The ground wouldn't have suited War Of Attrition, but our fellow didn't mind it. We will wait a few days and decide if he goes for the King George, but I would say it's unlikely: my inclination is to go for the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown."

He could well meet War Of Attrition again there. In the meantime the Gold Cup sponsors, Totesport, cut In Compliance from 16-1 to 8-1 third favourite, while leaving War Of Attrition on 7-2 and Kauto Star on 9-4. It is 14-1 bar.

As for Hardy Eustace, he lost only a points decision in his showdown with Detroit City in the Boylesports Hurdle at Cheltenham the previous afternoon. Yet Detroit City is somehow as short as 5-2 favourite for the Smurfit Champion Hurdle, whereas Hardy Eustace can be backed at 12-1 - an extraordinary insult both to his previous achievements at the Festival, where he has won three times already, and to his performance in what both camps described as "a messy race" on Saturday.

As it happens, trainer Dessie Hughes did not seem to think much of O'Dwyer's tactics, walking from the tape to ensure that Richard Johnson set the pace on Detroit City. Hardy Eustace permitted his young rival the initiative throughout and Johnson took adv- antage when kicking on three out.

Hardy Eustace followed him easily enough, but the steady early gallop left him with an uphill battle in sticky ground and it was only on the run-in that he finally started to run down the leader. He still had a length to find at the line, but Detroit City - receiving 4lb - was flat out and had pulled himself up long before O'Dwyer managed to ease down.

The general assumption is that Detroit City will be equally well suited by a stronger pace and faster ground in the Champion. Yet as Johnson himself said afterwards: "The great thing about this horse is that he's so straightforward, that there are no secrets about him."

There is no evidence that he could find one extra ounce in different circumstances. In contrast, one of the great hurdling careers of recent years shows an explicit pattern of peaking on spring ground at Cheltenham. It would not be remotely surprising if Hardy Eustace were to beat Detroit City a dozen lengths in March, but the reverse would be astonishing.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Dolans Bay (Ayr 1.20)

NB: The Abbots Habit (Ayr 12.20)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Website Editor

£15 - £17 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently r...

Primary Supply teaching jobs in Stowmarket

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: The Job An inner city Birmingham sc...

Year 2 Teacher - Maternity cover

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Year 2 maternity cover, startin...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments