Five-year-old Boy must come of age, warns Colm Murphy
TRAINER Colm Murphy is "under no illusions" The Westener Boy needs to improve markedly - despite being supplemented for the 13-runner Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown tomorrow.
The five-year-old has only had six starts under Rules, and only one of those outings was over hurdles before he was asked to tackle fences.
After finishing placed on his first two outings over larger obstacles, he turned in a stunning display at Navan to beat the highly-regarded Marasonnien by 25 lengths, after which the decision was taken to add him to the field for the Grade One.
"He seems well and he was very good in Navan the last day," said Murphy.
"We're under no illusions he needs to step up again, but he might still improve as he is still only a five-year-old.
"The ground should be all right for him so we'll give it a go and see what happens."
By contrast, the Tony Martin-trained Dedigout won at the highest level over hurdles and created a big impression when victorious on his chasing debut at Punchestown.
He was no match for Arvika Ligeonniere in the Drinmore Novice Chase but that was no disgrace given Willie Mullins' charge landed the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown yesterday.
Martin said: "He's in good shape and I think the step up to three miles will be a big help for him.
"He ran a blinder over two and a half in Fairyhouse.
"He just came up a classy horse and we probably just ran into a bit of a superstar.
"The longer trip should suit and the ground isn't a problem.
"The deeper the better for him."
Martin also runs Benefficient, who was fourth behind Arvika Ligeonniere yesterday.
Willie Mullins will be represented by Aupcharlie and Back In Focus, while Mount Benbulben runs for Gordon Elliott.
Lyreen Legend and Tofino Bay are Dessie Hughes' two runners, with Pride Of The Artic set to take his chance for Peter Fahey.
Hughes insists there is nothing between his two runners, but feels they both have their work cut out against Back In Focus.
Lyreen Legend was only four lengths behind the Graham Wylie-owned Back In Focus last time out and Hughes hopes his inmate can get even closer at Leopardstown.
"He ran very well the last day and he might even improve again," the Kildare handler said of Lyreen Legend.
"He doesn't mind the ground, he gets through it when it's like this.
"Tofino Bay likes the ground, too.
"He ended up last season rated 144 over hurdles so he was entitled to be a good chaser.
"He's taken to it well and there's nothing between my two, but I think they'll all have to go some to beat Willie's - he's the one to beat."
Andrew Lynch rides Aupcharlie, third in the Cheltenham Bumper in 2011 and impressive on his chasing debut at Gowran last month.
"He jumped and travelled well in Gowran the last day, I was very happy with him," said Lynch.
"He was a bit of a disappointing horse last year, but seems to have improved a lot this season.
"Hopefully he can go there and give a good account of himself."