Bookies in fear of Psycho's return

Irish trainer has layers on the run with two contenders for weekend 's big hurdle

Hard to believe, after another day when clerks of the course were left forlornly prodding frozen ground, but there is a class of men on the Turf just now with even colder feet. For an icy dread always permeates the bookmaker who must calculate the odds against any horse saddled in a big handicap by Tony Martin. These days, the layers tend to conclude that discretion is the better part of valour, making the Co Meath runner an automatic favourite. This time, however, they are going to have to try a little harder.

The Pierse Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday is one of the most valuable handicaps of the season, and Martin yesterday admitted that he has had the race in mind since last March. Unfortunately for those inclined to a corresponding leap of faith, he has had it in mind not for one horse, but for three. As things have turned out, Mourne Rambler "needs another week", but that still leaves everyone between a rock, in Robin Du Bois, and a hard place, in Psycho.

Either horse, on his own, would certainly be favourite. As it is, both contest that status with Imperial Hills, whose own trainer, Willie Mullins, will fear nobody with his horses in such invincible form. If anything, the money so far has been for Robin Du Bois, but yesterday Martin offered a guarded recommendation for Psycho.

"He's the one who has done it all before," he reasoned. "He was second in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham, possibly unlucky on the day, and has shown that he deserves a race like this. So I suppose you'd have to give him first preference.

"Things just didn't go his way at Cheltenham. He was in traffic, couldn't get out, and was left with too much ground to make up off no gallop. He was over the top at Fairyhouse next time, and has been an unlucky horse, really. Before, he had fallen at the last at Leopardstown, with the race won. Davy Russell rode him that day, and came and rode him in a piece of work last week. He was very pleased, and said he'd be happy to ride on Sunday.

"But I'm very happy with the preparation of both. Robin Du Bois also ran at Cheltenham, but was too keen and didn't get the three miles there. He couldn't have done it any better [on his reappearance] at Cork, and Robbie Colgan will be riding again."

That Cork win was back in November, and likewise Psycho's pleasing comeback at Fairyhouse. Martin has always been dextrous in priming a horse for a particular day, and all trainers acknowledge that it is easier to have a long-term target than to extemporise one. As such, he sounds indifferent to his image among bookmakers.

"I don't mind – if we get the right result," he said. "It's great when it does work out, like the day at Newcastle last summer with Arc Bleu [in the Northumberland Plate]. With these horses, we've worked backwards from this race since after Cheltenham, really, certainly since they came back in. If they came in time for the Ladbroke, at Ascot last month, grand. Otherwise you hope they might come in time for this. It's simply a case of when they start coming into shape. But I must say they're both best on soft ground, and it's drying out here. It's not really January ground at all."

But at least it is raceable. There has been no frost at Leopardstown since the Christmas meeting, whereas jumping in Britain remains stricken by the freeze, with today's cards at Catterick and Hereford duly interred yesterday.

In the meantime, the publication yesterday of 38 entries for the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup seemed suggestive of unimaginable pleasures. It should be another vintage race, even if 36 of them happened to disappear in the meantime, so long as both Denman and Kauto Star are fit for their rematch. The ball is firmly back in the court of last year's winner, who makes his delayed reappearance at Newbury next month; Kauto Star meanwhile goes straight to the Festival.

CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP (13 March) Totesport: 6-4 Denman, 5-2 Kauto Star, 13-2 Neptune Collonges, 16-1 Albertas Run, Exotic Dancer, Star De Mohaison, 20-1 Tidal Bay, 25-1 Barbers Shop, Imperial Commander, War Of Attrition, 33-1 others.

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
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence