Horses To Follow » Martello Tower

Martello Tower

Martello Tower put up a good performance to finish second to Outlander in the Grade 2 two-and-a-half-mile novices hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday, over a distance that was surely too sharp for the Milan gelding.

Settled into a nice rhythm just behind the leaders Hurry Henry and Net D’Ecosse, Adrian Heskin started to niggle him along as they left the back straight as he moved up on the outside of the leaders. Three wide rounding the top turn, he shipped a bit of a bump from Hurry Henry on the run to the second last flight, but he jumped the obstacle well and landed in front. He was quickly challenged by the two Gigginstown horses, however, No More Heroes on his outside and Outlander, who got a dream run through on the inside. Barry Connell’s horse looked vulnerable as he came under pressure from the top of the home straight, but he dug deep.

Outlander zipped through on the rail and quickly went two lengths up, but Martello Tower fought off No More Heroes on the run to the final flight, and then saw off Killultagh Vic’s challenge on the run-in. He could not bridge the gap to Outlander, the winner just had too much pace for him over this trip, but he did reduce the deficit from four lengths to three by the time they reached the winning line, and there was no disgrace in going down by that margin to a talented and progressive individual who was competing over his optimum trip and to whom he was conceding 5lb.

This was the second time that this pair have met in the space of four weeks. Their previous meeting was in a Grade 3 contest over three miles at Limerick’s Christmas Festival, when Martello Tower’s superior stamina came to the fore. The Mags Mullins-trained horse was conceding 6lb to Outlander on that occasion, and he battled on well to beat him by a neck. The drop in trip for Sunday’s race was in Outlander’s favour and against Martello Tower. Both horses emerge from the race with credit but, while the winner is a possible Neptune Hurdle horse, Martello Tower is surely a Albert Bartlett horse now. He has a lot of the attributes that you look for in an Albert Bartlett winner (a seven-year-old who has won over three miles and who is rated 135 or higher), and he should relish the stamina test that that race usually presents.

25th January 2015