Joncol may skip Cheltenham

Joncol may skip Cheltenham

Joncol is only 50-50 to participate at the Cheltenham Festival despite his battling success in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

Trainer Paul Nolan is mulling a tilt at the Ryanair Chase after his seven-year-old edged out last year’s RSA Chase winner Cooldine, with William Hill slashing him to 6-1 for his possible trip to the Cotswolds.

Cooldine attacked from the front but the field managed to keep tabs on Willie Mullins’ star.

He was joined by Schindlers Hunt entering the straight and the pair settled down to do battle until the latter parted the birch of the final fence.

Cooldine was left in the clear only for Alain Cawley to swoop on the run-in aboard the 9-4 favourite and narrowly edge out Cooldine after a punishing exchange of blows in front of the roaring grandstand.

Nolan said: “This is brilliant and days like this don’t come round too often.

“Cheltenham is at the back of my mind and he is only 50-50 to run there.

“If he does go it will be for the Ryanair and I have no regrets not entering him for the Gold Cup with Kauto Star and Denman being in there.

“If the ground stays right I’d love to run him in the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown.”

Mullins added of Cooldine: “I expect he will improve and he’ll go straight to the Gold Cup.”

Dunguib is now odds-on to become the first winner at the Festival after surviving a sloppy round of jumping to extend his winning run in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle.

The Philip Fenton-trained seven-year-old overcame some less than fluent hurdling to ease home as the 30-100 favourite.

His untidy performance made up Fenton’s mind that the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle rather than the Champion Hurdle will be his Festival target, with totesport, William Hill and Coral all quoting him a fraction under even money.

Fenton said: “That was the worst he has jumped and he was clumsy at a few hurdles.

“The last hurdle was probably his best and he jumped nine flights at home during the week with no mistakes.

“He cruises through his races and travels with ease. I wanted him to relax and settle, and he perhaps did that too much.”

Jumping errors were also evident for some in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase, but Citizen Vic was faultless at the head of affairs and made all to claim the Grade One prize under Paul Townend.

The 12-1 winner is improving rapidly and shook off the attentions of Weapon’s Amnesty and Roberto Goldback to earn a general 25-1 quote for the RSA Chase.

Mullins added: “I think the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse would be tailor-made for him but we will have a look at the RSA Chase first.”

Pittoni earned a quote of 12-1 from Coral for the JCB Triumph Hurdle after his victory as the 4-6 favourite in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle.

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