Nolan intent on Noble tilt at Jewson
Trainer Paul Nolan is looking forward to running Noble Prince in the Jewson Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
The seven-year-old has made a highly promising start to his fencing career, with a successful debut at Punchestown in October and second place behind Realt Dubh in two Grade One contests at Leopardstown this winter.
"Noble Prince will go for the Jewson, hopefully. He's in good form and hopefully he can go to Cheltenham with a big chance," said Nolan. Noble Prince is battling for favouritism at a top-priced 8/1 in the ante-post market for the Jewson on March 17.
Westmeath bids to book his Cheltenham ticket when he lines up in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.
The six-year-old pleased Nolan when second of 21 behind the Willie Mullins-trained Raptor over two-and-a-half miles at Punchestown on only his second start over jumps three weeks ago.
"We were delighted with his second run of the season in Punchestown," Nolan continued. "If he runs very well at Leopardstown, I'd say he'll go to Cheltenham."
Meanwhile Nolan revealed that plans for Joncol are on hold until the smart chaser recovers from a serious digestive problem.
"He's had trouble with his digestive system and he's having treatment this week so we'll know in about a week's time how well he comes out of it," said Co Wexford-based Nolan.
"We'll see how he responds and go from there. He's got a colic problem, he's been on antibiotics and hopefully we can reverse it."
Joncol has been plagued with problems this campaign, although he did manage to finish third in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown earlier this month after winning the three-mile feature last year.
Star Neuville is set to be John "Shark" Hanlon's only runner at the Cheltenham Festival when he lines-up for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
The five-year-old got off the mark at Leopardstown's big Christmas meeting and has delighted the Co Carlow trainer since that promising success.
"I think the world of this horse and he's improved loads since he won at Leopardstown," said Hanlon.
Owner Barry Connell has another fine prospect in Mart Lane, who made a winning debut in a Leopardstown bumper last week.
Hanlon reported Luska Lad to be on course for the Aintree Hurdle on John Smith's Grand National day in April following his creditable effort in finishing second to Champion Hurdle fancy Dunguib in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park on Saturday.
He added: "He goes to Aintree for the two-and-a-half-miler.
"He ran a blinder behind Dunguib on Sunday, so we'll be going for that now."