Joncol back with a bang

THE potentially top-class Joncol, a horse who has been plagued by problems, made a fine start to the season when taking the John Meagher Memorial Chase at Thurles yesterday.

“He’s always had problems and this is the first time we have had no hiccups with him”, reported trainer Paul Nolan.

Cooldine tried to make all of the running and they were tactics which looked destined to succeed turning for home. Joncol was under strong Barry Geraghty pressure, but to his credit found loads and forged past Cooldine between the last two fences to score going away by 12 lengths.

“He will come on an awful lot for that and I just pray to God we will get a clear run with the horse”, continued Nolan.

“We were thinking about the Hennessy (Newbury) and that will be given consideration, but he’s also in the John Durkan (Punchestown).

“We’ll see how he is, but I think Joncol could be 10lbs better than the highest rating he has ever had!”

Pat Fahy’s Eyesontheprize ploughed her way through the ground to take the Templemore Mares’ Maiden Hurdle by 25 lengths to initiate a double for Geraghty.

The in-form pilot asked her to lead going to the second last and she did the rest, hardly breaking sweat.

Said Fahy: “It’s the first time she has got that type of ground since winning at Navan. She will stay further and we will now try and find another mares’ race.”

Gordon Elliott’s Mount Benbulben, so unlucky when clipping heels and falling going to two out at Galway, made no mistake in the Cashel Maiden Hurdle.

In contrast to Galway, he settled beautifully for Paul Carberry and never came off the bridle to beat Golanbrook a totally unflattering two and a half lengths.

“I’m glad to get that out of the way, he’s a good horse”, said a relieved Elliott. “He will now go to Navan for the two and a half mile For Auction Hurdle and will be entered in the Royal Bond (Fairyhouse). The further he goes the better he’ll be.”

The layers got a decent result when 16-1 shot Rubert jumped and galloped his rivals silly in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Beginners Chase.

He was always in control, out in front, for Michael Darcy, crossing the line comfortably clear of Mayo Mystique.

Trainer, Denis Cullen, said: “He handles the ground and just gallops. He was a bit clueless, but we gave him the summer off and came back a different horse.”

The well-backed favourite, Cass Bligh, hampered at the third, was struggling to get in a blow when falling four out. Second favourite, Twinlight, was decidedly unlucky, cruising along in third spot when departing three from home.

After some lean years, Michael Hourigan’s horses are back on song and Hans Crescent was another for him in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase. Partnered by Matthew Bowes, the winner was left clear when Rakamasi, holding a fractional advantage at the time, fell at the penultimate obstacle.

“He is what he is, that was a terrible race, commented Hourigan, with more than a hint of realism.

Noel Meade’s Corbally Ghost, so disappointing at Fairyhouse in April, was seen in a far more favourable light in the Bumper.

Pushed clear from the furlong pole by Nina Carberry, he easily beat promising newcomer, The Mighty Milan, by four and a half lengths.

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