Bog Warrior in the clear at Punchestown
GRADE One-winning chaser Bog Warrior notched his second consecutive victory over the smaller obstacles with a smart display in the Follow Punchestown On Facebook Hurdle.
After falling on his seasonal reappearance over fences at Down Royal, Bog Warrior was given a confidence-boosting run over timber at Fairyhouse, running out an impressive winner.
Stepped up in class at Punchestown, the gelding was sent off the 11-8 favourite for a fascinating affair that also featured top-class hurdler Solwhit's return from over 700 days off the track.
Bog Warrior was ridden positively by Davy Russell and only Solwhit was able to go with him from the home turn.
The latter briefly looked a danger, but his lack of race-fitness then appeared to take its toll and Bog Warrior pulled clear for a six-and-a-half length success.
Charles Byrnes will undoubtedly be delighted with Solwhit's comeback run, while Staying Article was a distant third.
Dual Royal Ascot winner Simenon was once again a big disappointment.
Winning trainer Tony Martin said: "I'm thrilled with that. He improved from the north and at Fairyhouse he was good, but that was him today and it's great to see.
"There was no hiding place for anything there. I'll have a chat with the boys now (owners, Gigginstown House Stud) and see what way they want to go.
"It's just great to get a couple of wins with him. I'm just happy to go for something nice after today.
"We'll see how he is in the morning and week ahead. That's the most important thing as he's had a few problems in the past."
Paddy Power make Bog Warrior a 12-1 shot for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Byrnes said of Solwhit: "I'm well pleased with that. Andrew (Lynch) said he gave a good blow after the second last and the winner is a good horse on that ground.
"I'm happy going forward now and hopefully he's OK in the morning. We could look at the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas over two miles and three furlongs (January 19), or the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran (January 24) over three miles.
"I'll probably make an entry for the Irish Champion Hurdle, but I'd doubt if he'd run in it."