Bog Warrior raises Irish standard in stayers' title quest

 

Despite the injury-enforced absence of four-time World Hurdle winner Big Buck's, the marathon crown at the Cheltenham Festival is shaping up as a fascinating contest. The latest to present his credentials for a crack at the vacant title was Bog Warrior, a wide-margin winner at Punchestown on Monday. And, given the rain-sodden conditions, an entirely appropriately named one.

The nine-year-old, one of last season's best Irish-trained novices over fences, reverted to hurdles after falling on his senior chasing debut at Down Royal in November and is now two from two this term over the smaller obstacles. In yesterday's two-and-a-half-mile contest, which the heavy ground in Co Kildare made a thorough test of resolution, he was in command from before the second-last hurdle and galloped home strongly under Davy Russell to score by six and a half lengths from long-absent Solwhit.

Bog Warrior, who carries the colours of Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, has been introduced into the World Hurdle betting at 12-1 by the Irish firm Paddy Power, though his Festival target, if any, has yet to be identified by his connections. "He's a very good horse," said his trainer, Tony Martin, "and whether he goes back over hurdles or stays over fences is all in the balance.

"He's had a few problems in the past and we'll see how he is in the coming week. But there was no hiding place for anything out there today, and that was him at his best and it was great to see. And after that performance he will be able to go for something nice."

The injury to Big Buck's and the balancing act with Bog Warrior are testament to the skill required to keep a horse on the track and the team associated with Solwhit are entitled to be equally delighted. Their charge, a six-time Grade One winner and one of the few to beat Hurricane Fly over hurdles before leg problems surfaced, was returning to action after nearly two years on the sidelines, but that his talent remains intact was evident.

He travelled well and answered readily when Andrew Lynch sent him into second place going to the home turn and, although he had no answer to Bog Warrior's pace in the finish, he came in a long way clear of another race-fit rival, Staying Article. "Well pleased with that," said his trainer, Charles Byrnes, "and hopefully he's OK in the morning."

Today's traditional New Year's Day meeting at Cheltenham was lost to waterlogging, leaving the terrestrial TV focus on Musselburgh.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap: Hawkes Point (2.40 Exeter)

Looked a thorough stayer over hurdles and steps up in trip on his second try over fences.

Next best: Valleyofmilan (1.45 Catterick)

Showed enough in his runs in novice company to be of interest on his handicap debut and should not be inconvenienced by the testing conditions.

One to watch: Fill The Power (Sue Smith) produced a mighty effort when he was narrowly beaten under a welter burden at Doncaster on Saturday and looks sure to make his mark in marathon contests.

Where the money's going: Teaforthree heads the market for Saturday's rearranged Welsh National at 7-2 across the boards.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Dynamics CRM Developer (C#, .NET, Dynamics CRM 2011/2013)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor