Prince rolls back years in Thurles
NOBLE PRINCE won his first race for over two years in the John Meagher Memorial Chase at Thurles.
Paul Nolan's nine-year-old was a Cheltenham Festival winner under Tony McCoy back in 2011, but had not tasted victory since he was successful at Naas in October later that year.
His problems since had been well documented, but he shaped reasonably well on his reappearance at Punchestown last month and Ruby Walsh had been booked for the mount.
Walsh stalked the field throughout, but still looked to have plenty to do turning into the straight as Fosters Cross and Realt Dubh led the way.
Noble Prince (6/1) met the second-last wrong and Walsh had to get serious with his mount, who jumped the final fence cleanly to power three and a quarter lengths clear of Realt Dubh, the 11/10 favourite.
Quito De La Roque dropped away tamely.
Nolan said: "I blame myself for running him last year as he had a major problem and I was banging my head against a wall by running him.
"He should have had the season off as he had cracks down both hooves and we ran him with steel stitches in it.
"Normally, it is a problem show-jumpers have and he just wasn't jumping, which was causing him to be cowardly.
"He finished out no race last season and I'm delighted he won today as he is now back on track.
"I thought there were two horses that were better than me and, coming here, I thought he was down to a mark that he might have a chance in a big handicap in England.
"The handicapper won't put us up too much for that, hopefully."