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.

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk