View from connections ahead of Saturday's Dr. P.J. Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
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The much talked about Boston Bob aims to book his ticket to next month's Cheltenham Festival in the Dr. P.J. Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Saturday.
The eight-year-old was Ireland's leading staying novice hurdler last season, winning each of his three starts on home turf before finding the ill-fated Brindisi Breeze too strong in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham in March.
He just prevailed when long odds-on for his chasing debut at Navan in December but with the Festival little over a month away, trainer Willie Mullins feels he has little option but to test the water at Grade One level.
"I was hoping to find an easier contest than this for him but if he's going to go to Cheltenham he's got to go and prove he's up to it," said Mullins.
"I think the drying ground is a help and on his homework I think he's improving. He lacks a bit of experience, but I think he's up to it, and either way I think he'll gain some good experience from running in a Grade One race like this."
Boston Bob is entered in four novice chases at Cheltenham next month, ranging from the two-mile Arkle Trophy to the four-mile National Hunt Chase.
Mullins said: "We gave him all the entries, but I haven't been able to get as many runs into him as I'd have liked. We're looking at longer trips with him at the moment."
Officially the highest rated horse in the field is the Dessie Hughes-trained Lyreen Legend.
The six-year-old won on his chasing debut at Galway, was second to Boston Bob's stablemate Back In Focus at Punchestown and then fell when still travelling well behind the same horse at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting.
"He's in good shape and was travelling well enough there the last day when he came down, so you'd think he'd have a good chance," said Hughes.
"He was nearly a Grade One horse over hurdles, so I think he should be up to it and the ground doesn't make any difference to him. He goes on anything."
Texas Jack is turned out relatively quickly by Noel Meade, having landed a Grade Two prize over the course and distance two weeks ago.
Meade said: "He's in good form and I've been very happy with him since the last day.
"It's maybe coming up a bit soon but it's a Grade One race and the same distance and track as his last run, so I suppose it makes sense to have a go at it.
"It's a good race, but whatever happens I think we'll be staying at home with our lad.
"At the moment we'd be looking towards Fairyhouse (Powers Gold Cup), rather than going to Cheltenham."
Jim Culloty's Lord Windermere was half a length behind Texas Jack last month, and reopposes. Klepht and Star Neuville complete the field.