The smart first season chaser Bog Warrior gained a facile confidence boosting success at Naas in the BBA Ireland Limited Opera Hat Novices Chase to get his career back on track after an uncharacteristic fall at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting, but is no certainty to take his chance at the Cheltenham Festival in March with connections concerned about the mud lover tackling quicker ground, writes Elliot Slater.
Tony Martin’s eight-year-old has looked an exciting prospect since switching to the larger obstacles this term, winning at Navan in November on his chasing bow then following up in spectacular fashion when destroying classy opposition to beat Shinrock Paddy by no less than 31-lengths to win the Grade 1 Bar On Racing Drinmore Novices Chase at Fairyhouse in December.
Odds-on to win the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase three weeks later, the son of Strategic Choice got no further than the fourth fence, taking a heavy fall that necessitated a mid-term break. Anyone thinking of placing a ante-post Cheltenham bet on him will have waited to see how he recovered.
Clearly none the worse for that experience, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding made every yard at Naas and had his rivals in trouble from before halfway, eventually coasting across the winning line to score by 11-lengths from Eddie O’Grady’s Slieveadargh, no slouch himself having pushed the smart First Lieutenant all the way at Tipperary in October on his previous outing.
Martin refused to be drawn on whether or not Bog Warrior, (a 12/1 shot for the Jewson Novices Chase and a 16/1 chance for the Grade 1 Arkle Chase), will run at Cheltenham, insisting that the ground will be the determining factor in any decision and that only if there is a lot of give underfoot will he risk his rising star at the showcase National Hunt fixture.