Joncol takes feature race at Punchestown

Joncol takes feature race at Punchestown

Joncol booked his ticket to the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28 when showing plenty of guts to win the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown this afternoon.

The small but select field for the Grade One event went a good clip in the testing conditions with Aran Concerto and Joncol making the running.

In Compliance was never far away with J'y Vole, but Barker was always out back and fell just after halfway.

Aran Concerto began to feel the pinch turning into the straight and folded tamely before falling, while In Compliance moved up to Joncol ominously.

The Paul Nolan-trained Joncol (9-4 favourite) continued to respond to pressure though and the 2006 winner could never quite get on terms and was five lengths down at the line.

Paddy Power cut the Alain Cawley-ridden winner to 3-1 from 9-2 for the Lexus Chase and 25-1 from 33s for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. William Hill are also 25s for the Gold while going 11-4 second-favourite from 5s for the Lexus, with Notre Pere the 9-4 market leader.

Nolan said: "It was probably the first time we were 100% happy with him today.

"He's on a different programme this year and different diet and it seems to have turned him inside out.

"He's a big horse and we were waiting for him to tell us when he's ready. We didn't want to run him over hurdles and have minded him.

"He's still only six and if he's OK after today we'll aim for the Lexus.

"His owners have been very patient as he's had a very stop-start career with ulcers but we hope that's all sorted now.

"You'd have to think he could be a Gold Cup horse after that. I just hope he's not a mudlark horse, but I don't think he is."

Cawley said: "That's my best feeling so far in racing, my biggest success by far.

"He's some horse to do what he has done, they didn't go a gallop and that didn't suit me. When Barry (Geraghty's) horse (In Compliance) came to me down the back it helped me a lot.

"My lad was a bit slow at the fourth-last, it just takes him a while to get going. When he came up beside me I knew I still had plenty of horse - I hadn't gone for everything.

"Another half a mile would be ideal for him, he's a galloper and he wasn't stopping going to the line today."

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