Davy Russell believes there is no pressure on him as he bids to extend his 100% record to three on War Of Attrition in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.
The jockey has been successful in both races since taking over from the retired Conor O’Dwyer on the Mouse Morris-trained 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
“Touch wood, it’s going well for him at the moment,” said Russell.
“The ground won’t be ideal for him really, he’s at his best on better ground and he wants further.
“Obviously he’s been beaten in this race twice before, but it’s really a stepping stone for him.
“There’s no pressure on me or the connections. There’s only really one day that counts (Cheltenham Gold Cup).
“His enthusiasm is magnificent and he’s strengthened up no end. He’s very much one to look forward to – every day you sit on him he’ll be better.
“I’ve sat on him at home since Thurles. He’s only been chipping away and not done any major work since. He gave me a fantastic feel the first time I rode him at Punchestown and he was just similar in Thurles, but it’s a tough race on Sunday.”
The Listener took this prize 12 months ago when trained by Robert Alner and his new handler Nick Mitchell, who was assistant then, is hoping the grey can put up a bold show again.
“We arrived on Thursday night and he had a run round the track this morning and seems in good form,” said Mitchell.
“The course is in good nick but it’s pretty wet out there and it’s likely to be testing ground on Sunday.
“He was very down when he got back from Down Royal, he was a bit stiff and not 100%. We gave him a quiet week and gradually built him back up and he seems in bullish form now.
Willie Mullins is hoping Snowy Morning can bounce back from a disappointing run at Clonmel recently.
“We were obviously disappointed with Snowy Morning’s last run and he will need to improve on that if he is going to feature on Sunday,” said the Co Carlow trainer.
Watson Lake, trained by Noel Meade, will take a step up in trip following his victory at Navan last month.
Meade said: “Watson Lake is in terrific form and we have decided to let him take his chances because of this and the fact that there is excellent prize money on offer.”
Arthur Moore is represented by Mansony, a Grade One winner at the track in the 2007 Kerrygold Chase.
Moore said: “Mansony is in great form and will have come on from his last run when he finished third at Navan. The Durkan has always been his target.”
On ground conditions, Punchestown general manager Dick O’Sullivan said: “The going is currently soft to heavy, heavy in places with further rain unlikely. We will provide fresh ground on both courses.”
A second British raider, the Paul Nicholls-trained Noland, is 11-8 favourite with Cashmans bookmakers after a field of 10 was declared for the €100,000 contest.