Martin backing his Warrior in Leopardstown's big battle
Tony Martin is confident a drop in distance won't be a problem for Bog Warrior as he bids for further Grade One honours in Monday's big novice chase at Leopardstown.
The lightly raced seven-year-old impressed on his fencing debut at Navan in November and took a step up to the highest level in his stride with an exhibition round of jumping in the two-and-a-half-mile Drinmore Chase.
He competes over three furlongs shorter in the highlight of the opening day of Leopardstown's Christmas meeting and Martin could not be happier with his star turn.
"Everything has gone well and he in good order. We'll take our chance and see how we get on," said the Co Meath handler. "He's won over two miles twice and he's won over two and a half, so I wouldn't be worried about the trip. He showed plenty pace the last day and he's won a bumper, so he should be fine."
Noel Meade has decided to declare Perfect Smile after his comfortable win on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse last week, but admits he faces a tough task.
"It's a big step up for him, but it's the race to run in as much as anything else, as there is nothing else within the next couple of weeks.
"He does prefer better ground, but Leopardstown ground is better than most. I know it's a big ask, but he came out of the race the other day in good form, so we'll give it a go."
There is a fascinating British challenger in the shape of David Pipe's Notus De La Tour. The five-year-old impressed in novice chases at Carlisle and Plumpton before being beaten into third behind the classy Walkon at Exeter at the start of the month.
"We decided to go to Ireland as there's a lot of prize money on offer," said Pipe "It looks a very hot race, but he'll like the conditions, he's shown good form and he's a good traveller. We took him to France at the end of last season and he took that well.
"With a bit of luck he should be able to bring some prize money back. Bog Warrior was very impressive last time and looks the one to beat, although he is stepping back down half a mile in trip."
Other interesting contenders include the Willie Mullins-trained Blackstairmountain and Lucky William from the Tom Cooper yard.