'Defy Logic' is ready for Arkle
DAVIDSTOWN-BASED trainer Paul Nolan has reported that his recent 'Champagne Fever' conqueror, 'Defy Logic', is on track to renew his hunt for Grade One honours in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown on January 26.
The J.P. McManus-owned seven-year-old made a fine start to his career over fences at Naas in October before tasting defeat in the Grade Two Craddockstown Novice Chase at Punchestown.
The disappointment of that loss was put to the back of his trainer's mind when he subsequently won the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown after prevailing in a no-holds-barred encounter with Willie Mullins' Cheltenham hero 'Champagne Fever' at Christmas.
'Defy Logic' is now among market leaders for the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival in March, though Nolan has his mind focused on the Leopardstown appointment for now.
'Everything is fine with the horse. We're very pleased how he came out of the race. The ground in Leopardstown was a bit nicer than we'd have liked, ideally, but he seemed to handle it well. I think he'd just prefer the ground a bit easier as it is easier on his limbs,' he said yesterday (Monday). 'The Arkle at Leopardstown would be the plan and he seems to be a bit better going left-handed. The more rain that comes for him the better. Assuming everything goes well in that, he'll head on to Cheltenham in March.'
Blackwater trainer John Berry started 2014 in the same manner as he finished off 2013 when 'Civena' (16/1) opened her account over fences in the beginners' chase at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day.
Jockey Adam O'Neill got the best from his mount on the run-in, despite losing his stick at the last, and she got back up to turn over hot favourite 'Talbot Road' by a half a length.
'She likes this place and the weight maybe told with 'Talbot Road'. She was getting a stone and it made the difference,' said Berry afterwards. 'Getting a bit of black-type with her will be the main thing, before she goes breeding. We'll stick her in one of the mares' races and hope for the best.'
There was further Wexford success at the New Year's Day meeting at Tramore when 'Mini Vic' (14/1) bounced back to her best as she took the Curran South East Cleaners Handicap Hurdle under Andrew Ring for trainer Liz Doyle.
'Sacre Malta', the 3/1 favourite, ran out of steam close to home and finished runner-up under Corlican jockey Conor Walsh, for Willie Murphy.
Liz Doyle said afterwards: 'She has had three palate operations, and the last one worked! She has this big palate for her tiny skull, and she was just cutting out in all her races as she couldn't breathe. She is eleven pounds lower today that her initial handicap rating.
'Andrew gave her a lovely ride. I told him not to come off the wall, and he didn't. I won a couple of races around here and that is what I used to do. I retired on her after she won a bumper. She is a tiny horse but all she does is gallops and I suppose she is an 'Old Vic'.'
Finally, 'Hurricane Fly', 'Jezki' and 'Our Conor', first, second and third in last month's Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle, look set to clash again in the Grade 1 BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday, January 26. Seven horses have been entered for this year's renewal including 'Hurricane Fly' who is bidding for his 29th Grade 1 success and his eighth victory at Leopardstown.
Racing takes place at the following Irish racetracks over the coming week: Dundalk, Friday, January 10 (first race 6.15 p.m.); Punchestown, Saturday, January 11 (first race 12.35 p.m.); Navan, Sunday, January 12 (first race 12.40 p.m.).