Final battle for War Of Attrition

ONE of Ireland’s most popular chasers of recent times has his last race ever today as War Of Attrition ends a productive career in the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown.

Now 11, Mouse Morris’ stable star was narrowly beaten by Brave Inca in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle of 2004 but his future was always going to lie over fences.

He won the Swordlestown Cup in 2005, the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2006 and the Guinness Gold Cup a month later.

Injury kept him off the track for nearly two years but he returned with a win over another Gold Cup winner, Kicking King.

He still managed to win two Grade Two hurdles this winter before running well for a long way in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham.

“He likes Punchestown and the ground is in his favour,” said Morris.

“I’m just hoping he runs a nice, respectable race and isn’t disgraced.

“He ran well for a long way at Cheltenham but he just isn’t quick enough for Grade One hurdles any more.

“As long as he comes back safe and sound, that is the main thing.”

Barry Geraghty, who rides Barbers Shop, believes Denman is the one to beat.

“Joncol goes into the race fresh, conditions might be a little it good for him but he still has to be respected – he’s a horse that is improving,” Geraghty told At The Races.

“Cooldine ran a bit keen in Cheltenham but if he settles he could run a big race.

“To be fair to Denman, he’s had a month or so since the Gold Cup so he’s going to be well in himself.

“Paul Nicholls wouldn’t be bringing Denman over unless he was happy with him so he is the one we have to beat.”

Joncol is looking for his third Grade One win of the season after victories in the John Durkan and Irish Hennessy.

However, Nolan admits he faces a “big decision” whether or not to let the giant seven-year-old take his chance on the drying ground.

“He’s fresh and well and he’s had a nice break – but I hope they put plenty of water on it tonight,” said Nolan.

“It’s not that he needs soft ground, and he certainly hasn’t got a soft ground action, it’s just that he is such a big, heavy horse.

“He’s only a young horse so we’ve got plenty more to look forward to with him rather than just tomorrow.

“It’s not a nice predicament to be in, having to walk the track tomorrow afternoon before racing.

“With it being an evening meeting it has the chance to dry out all day.

“If the same Denman turns up who ran at Cheltenham he’s got about 18-20lb in hand and the rest of us are playing for second.

“I hope Joncol keeps progressing but it’s up to us to look after him.

“We’ve got a big decision to make when we walk the track and we don’t want a doubt in our mind.”

Paul Nicholls admits to being surprised at just how well Denman looks at this late stage of the season.

“He does look particularly fresh and well for him,” said Nicholls.

“He’s done very well since Cheltenham which is unlike what normally happens.

“We are very happy and looking forward to running him.

“I like Punchestown, it’s more relaxed than Aintree and Cheltenham because I’ll have a runner in nearly every race there, but you get time to enjoy this.

“There’s a lot less pressure and it’s a great meeting.”

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