Trip no issue for Coney Island
The view from connections ahead of the Grade One Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Thursday.
Coney Islands wins the Drinmore – can he claim another Grade One?
Eddie Harty has been thrilled with Coney Island ahead of his quest for a second successive Grade One victory in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
The five-year-old was a very easy winner of what looked a competitive renewal of the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse on December 4.
He steps up half a mile in trip but won over three miles as a hurdler and Harty hopes he continues on the upgrade.
"He did everything well in the Drinmore," said the County Kildare handler.
"We're going half a mile further but I can't see that being an issue. He stayed it well over hurdles and he's only getting stronger.
"The horse is very well. We've had no issues since the Drinmore and I'm looking forward to it.
"The field looks pretty similar to what he beat last time with a few new faces to overcome, but he's entitled to be there, as are they all.
"It's a Grade One, so you don't expect a penalty kick."
Willie Mullins runs Briar Hill and Bellow Mome, who are both stepping up in trip.
Briar Hill was a Champion Bumper winner in 2013 but he has yet to hit those heights since, while Bellow Mome struck on his chasing bow at Thurles in November.
"We've always thought Briar Hill was a stayer and I felt he ran an excellent race over two miles at Navan last time," said assistant trainer Patrick Mullins.
"The experience he gained there jumping at two-mile pace should stand him in good stead.
"We've constantly been denied a clear run with this horse due to little niggles but we're hoping he can begin to realise the potential of his Champion Bumper win a few years ago.
"Bellow Mome's jumping was very slick first time out and he's improving all the time.
"The dry ground at Leopardstown is the key to his chance, it brings out the best in him.
"It's a big step up in class and trip but I think he'll stay and we should know a lot more about him after this."
Mouse Morris expects Alpha Des Obeaux to improve for the step back up to three miles.
Second only to Thistlecrack in the World Hurdle in March, he already has two wins over fences to his credit.
Four and a half lengths behind Coney Island last time, Morris hopes the extra half a mile will help him close the gap.
"I was happy enough with his run in the Drinmore and he's come out of the race well," said Morris.
"The longer trip will suit him. I'm not that worried about the ground, I'm more worried about the opposition."
Jessica Harrington's Our Duke was a very impressive winner on his first outing over fences at Navan.
"I was really pleased with him at Navan and he's been in good form since," said Harrington.
The Gordon Elliott trio of Jetstream Jack, Prince Of Scars and A Toi Phil all have a chance on their best form.
Mags Mullins' Martello Tower is another who is likely to be suited by a rise in distance, as should the Noel Meade-trained Disko.