Logic hoping to defy Fever at Leopardstown
DEFY LOGIC will just have to "cope with it" was trainer Paul Nolan's reaction to the prospect of a four-way tussle for the lead that could make next Thursday's Racing Post Novice Chase the fastest in more than 20 years.
JP McManus's Racing Post Arkle Chase hopeful was yesterday among nine remaining entries for the €85,000 Grade 1 that stars on Leopardstown's St Stephen's Day card, but so were fellow front-runners Champagne Fever, Trifolium and Road To Riches.
When Blackstairmountain set the fastest time of the past 20 years in a 2m1f chase at Leopardstown two years ago, it was in this race and there was a similar situation with Notus De La Tour, Bog Warrior and Baily Green all keen to go on. Notus De La Tour was the only one of the trio able to stick on, finishing second to Blackstairmountain, who won in a time of 4m07.3s.
Willie Mullins, trainer of Blackstairmountain and Champagne Fever, would not be drawn on his tactics for the race, but Nolan was quick to effectively tell his runner to get on with it.
He said: "If he’s going to be inclined to run that way then he has to cope with things like having a battle up front. He seems still very settled at home, but clearly he likes to run from the front and will probably want to at Leopardstown. I don't know yet whether Mark Walsh or Tony McCoy will ride him, but I wouldn't give either of them any instructions. They have both ridden him and know him well and will know what's best to do."
If there is pressure amongst the front-runners it could play into the hands of those who like to race off the pace as it did on Blackstairmountain's day.
Ted Veale, the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle winner, is such a horse and trainer Tony Martin is buoyed by the prospect of a sound surface for John Breslin's six-year-old.
He said: "He's definitely an intended runner, provided the going doesn't turn soft. I was absolutely delighted with his run at Cheltenham as that was first run since the Ebor in August and he'll come on a tonne for it. Naturally enough you'd have to be very impressed with Champagne Fever so far over fences, but our lad is a fair horse and I cant wait until he gets nice ground over fences."
The ground was yesterday morning good on the chase course at Leopardstown and good to yielding in places on the hurdle course, but much of Dublin was hit with torrential rain late in the afternoon and this could be reviewed this morning before entries for are made for the final two days of the Christmas meeting.
The topweights Sydney Paget and Silver By Nature remain in the €190,000 Paddy Power Chase on Friday week, giving favourite Home Farm 11st 7lb to carry. The two Grade 1s on that day are the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase and the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle in which Mullins has whittled his 18 entries down to four - Moyle Park, Arctic Fire, Renneti and Vautour.