Tower takes aim at Naas prize
View from connections ahead of Saturday's Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase at Naas.
Martello Tower lines up at Naas on Saturday
Trainer Mags Mullins is hoping the application of cheekpieces will help Martello Tower raise his game in the Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase at Naas on Saturday.
It is almost two years since the Milan gelding claimed Cheltenham Festival glory in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.
The Barry Connell-owned nine-year-old found life difficult at the highest level in staying hurdles last season, but made an encouraging start to his career over fences when narrowly beaten by Anibale Fly at Navan in November and got off the mark at Fairyhouse the following month.
Martello Tower was a well-beaten fourth when returned to Grade One level in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase over the festive period, but Mullins feels her stable star is capable of better.
"He ran well enough in Leopardstown. I'd say the ground was a little bit quick for him that day," said the Goresbridge-based trainer.
"We're putting a pair of cheekpieces on him, not because he's dishonest, he's probably just idling a bit in his races.
"You usually get a bit softer ground at Naas so hopefully that will help him."
Martello Tower holds entries in the RSA Chase and the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in March, but Mullins is in no rush to finalise his Festival target.
She added: "We'll see how he goes on Saturday before we think about Cheltenham."
Willie Mullins is represented by Briar Hill and Haymount in the Grade Three contest.
Briar Hill fell in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown on his last outing, while Haymount was a fine second to stable companion Bellshill in the Shannon Airport Novice Chase at Limerick.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: "Briar Hill is coming back from a fall, which isn't ideal. The trip should suit him and hopefully with a clear round he'll run a big race.
"I don't think there's much between him and Haymount.
"I rode Haymount in Limerick over Christmas and he ran really well to chase home Bellshill. A step up to three miles should bring out a little improvement in him.
"We'll find out whether the two of them are up to running in either the RSA Chase or the four-miler (National Hunt Chase) in Cheltenham."
Tony Martin's Anibale Fly sets the standard on his runner-up finish in the Drinmore Novice Chase, but he lines up with something to prove after he was pulled up in the Feltham Novices' Chase at Kempton.
A Genie In Abottle, trained by Noel Meade, is another contender in what looks an open contest.
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