Noland back with a bang

Noland emerged from almost two years on the sidelines to make a perfect start to his career over fences in the Folkestone Beginners' Chase at the Kent track today.

Noland emerged from almost two years on the sidelines to make a perfect start to his career over fences in the Folkestone Beginners' Chase at the Kent track today.

The 2006 Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner had been absent since his Cheltenham success with leg trouble, but put himself in line for a second Festival visit with a likeable performance under Ruby Walsh.

Connections played down any talk of a rift between trainer Paul Nicholls and owner John Hales regarding a Cheltenham run, with Coral and Blue Square quoting him as 10-1 second favourite for the Arkle.

Totesport and Paddy Power were more impressed and make him an 8-1 shot for the two-mile championship event.

The seven-year-old jumped beautifully on his reappearance and, after going clear before the third last, the 8-13 favourite was pushed out to see off Polinamix by nine lengths.

Nicholls' assistant Dan Skelton said: "That was the perfect start and it was great to see after such a long lay-off.

"With a horse like this you have to mind their legs so we haven't gone overboard with him at home.

"And that would have been the most serious piece of work he's done and he's had a good blow afterwards.

"The Kingmaker at Warwick might suit him next and that would be a tentative choice of where we go next although there are plenty of options.

"John (Hales) watched the race in Barbados and he couldn't have been happier and there is no reason with a horse like him not to be thinking about Cheltenham.

"There has been no fallout between Paul and John and what has been written recently should be disregarded.

"He'll be put in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase as well as the Arkle, but on that performance you wouldn't think he really needs to go much further."

Walsh added: "He makes good use of himself but wasn't doing much in front and had his ears pricked - but he was deadly.

"I don't know whether he was the pace for an Arkle, he will maybe be better over further, but time will tell."

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