Ridden with typical patience and confidence by Carberry, the 9/10 favourite jumped soundly and, suited by a strong pace set by Bob Lingo and Saludos, gradually crept into contention.
The eventual winner was in second spot, tracking Saludos, when that rival blundered at the second last, slightly hampering Carberry’s mount, which recovered quickly to edge ahead of Healy’s Bar going to the last.
On the run-in, Carberry oozed confidence as the six-year-old edged clear to triumph by a length and three-quarters, without being asked a serious question.
James Nolan, representing his brother Paul stated: “You’d have to be pleased with that. It was a nice round of jumping. Paul loved him and he settled well, which was an issue with him last season.”
Nolan, reflecting on Noble Prince’s campaign last season, added: “A lot of people think he’s a nearly horse. But, honestly, we made a mess of things with him last year.
“We did things wrong, like running back in the Lismullen at Navan, where he ran flat, only a week after he won at Naas and running him in the County at Cheltenham instead of the Coral Cup.
“He’s a Montjeu and needs to be fresh and that’ll be a consideration wherever he goes this season I see him as a middle-distance horse, because there’s a question mark about him over three miles. He’ll race over two and two and a half miles and will run in either the Craddockstown back here in two and a half weeks or the Drinmore at Fairyhouse.”
Paul Nolan’s double was initiated when Joncol’s massively-built half-brother Seafield was produced with a storming late challenge by Alain Cawley to collar Datokepe and Big Robert close home in the opening Punchestrown Event Centre Maiden Hurdle.
“I didn’t think he was ready enough to win today, because he has only worked at home and hasn’t been away,” admitted James Nolan afterwards. “He looked big in the ring and I thought two miles around here was plenty sharp enough.
“Squeaky (Alain Cawley) said he gave a blow about seven furlongs out and again going to the last. He gave the horse a brilliant ride and I expect him to improve a lot from the run. He’ll probably go for a winners’ race in about three weeks and then the Barry and Sandra Kelly (Grade 1) at Navan before Christmas. He worked with the likes of Joncol and Shinrock Paddy last year and is a serious prospect.”
Paul Carberry is enjoying a tremendous run and, following his win on Noble Prince, brought his seasonal tally to 41 on board Noel Meade’s Thegreatjohnbrowne in the Christmas Parties At Punchestown Beginners Chase, the former champion’s fifth winner in less than twenty-four hours at Punchestown.
In front from the second, Thegreatjohnbrowne jumped superbly for Carberry and was never seriously threatened, coming home an easy, five and a half lengths winner from Bostons Angel in what looked a solid novice event.
Like Paul Nolan, trainer Meade is at the Sales in Newmarket. But his brother Ben said: “That was some performance. He jumped great and is back to his best. Noel has always rated him highly, but he disappointed last season. Chasing was always going to be his game and, hopefully, it’ll be a case of onwards and upwards with him.”