Down Royal next target for Joncol

Trainer Paul Nolan is confident Joncol will “strip a lot fitter” for his comeback run at Punchestown last week.

The dual Grade One-winning nine-year-old was a hot favourite for the Star “Best For Racing Coverage” Chase on his first start since December, but could only finish third in the extremely testing conditions.

He is now set for a return to the highest level in the Champion Chase at Down Royal on November 3.

Nolan said: “Everything is fine with him. He was a bit rung-rusty and he looked big in the parade ring beforehand.

“The ground was so testing he just got very tired at the end due to the lack of a run.

“He seems well since, though, and will strip a lot fitter for the run.

“We’ll know a lot more about where we are the next day and the plan is to run in Down Royal.”

Quito De La Roque is set to attempt to defend his crown in the Champion Chase.

Colm Murphy’s charge got up close home to deny Sizing Europe in the three-mile feature but only ran once more last term, when third to Synchronised in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in late December.

“He seems well and is probably a bit more forward this year than last year. We had a good few stop starts, ” said Murphy.

“All’s going well and fingers crossed he stays well for the next couple of weeks.

“I suppose we’ll be looking at the obvious races like Leopardstown at Christmas and so forth.

“There was a lot of talk last year and we did plenty of dreaming about him.

“I think we’ll take it race by race. He’s had his fair share of problems and if he doesn’t have any recurrence of those, you’d be hopeful of going for some of the better staying chases.”

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