Sunday 17 December 2017

Joncol raring to go at Navan

Joncol is on course to return to racecourse action in the Fortria Chase at Navan on Sunday week.

Trainer Paul Nolan feels the two miles will be on the short side for the seven-year-old, who was last seen winning the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February.

However, the race fits in nicely with plans for his bid to win the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase for the second successive year in December.

"He's in very good form. He schooled on Friday morning and all went well. That will be the last bit of jumping before he runs," said the Co Wexford handler. "We're happy with him and he'll run in the Fortria.

"We've had some rain here so hopefully the ground looks like it's getting to be proper winter ground.

"Hopefully the Fortria will bring him on with the John Durkan being his main target before Christmas.

"He was very good in it last year and we are going for a repeat in December.

"Two miles at Navan will be too sharp for him, but if he runs a nice race like he did in Naas last year before the John Durkan that will be great."

Nolan is set to give Noble Prince a chance in better company in the Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse next month following his debut victory over fences at Punchestown on Wednesday.

"It was a very nice performance. We were delighted with the way he jumped. Paul (Carberry) was brilliant on him, so we will have to step him up now," Nolan went on.

"I don't know if we'll step him up in trip or not yet, but certainly the Drinmore will have to be an option as he'll have to be stepped up in grade and take on the better novices."

William Buick is optimistic that Debussy can put up a bold show in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs next Saturday.

The four-year-old's last trip to America ended in Grade One success when he won the Arlington Million in Chicago by half a length from Gio Ponti.

Trainer John Gosden's charge then ran a very creditable race a fortnight ago in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket.

Debussy, with his regular rider Buick aboard, led for much of the mile-and-a-quarter contest before finishing third to Twice Over.

Now he is being prepared for a crack at another top-class race and is as short as 8-1 with William Hill for what will be a step back up to a mile and a half.

Buick said: "Debussy surprised a few people in Chicago because, perhaps, he didn't have as good form as some of the others.

"But he is talented and always had the ability to win a race like that.

"He also ran well in the Champion Stakes and will head to the Breeders' Cup for the Turf and I hope he can run well again."

Buick is no stranger to international success. Aside from Debussy's American win, he cemented his role as retained rider to Gosden by winning the lucrative Dubai Sheema Classic on Dar Re Mi last March.

He said: "I was a little bit nervous as the Sheema Classic was my first big ride for John, but there is no point being a jockey if you worry about the big days. You have to enjoy it, and I do."

Somersby, Henrietta Knight's exciting chasing prospect, will kickstart his season in the totepool Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on Tuesday.

The six-year-old mixed it at the very highest level during his novice campaign over fences, winning twice before finishing a narrow second in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham, and subsequently at Aintree.

Knight is hoping to learn more about future plans for her charge by running him in the Grade Two event.

"He'll go to Exeter on Tuesday and I understand Twist Magic is going there too," said Knight.

"It's a limited handicap and Twist Magic running will mean a lot of them will be running from out of the handicap, but we've got to give him a run and see where we're going with him.

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