Durkan date for impressive Kauto Stone
Paul Nicholls has revealed that the recent impressive Down Royal scorer Kauto Stone will have his next start in the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown on December 11.
A half-brother to Kauto Star, the exciting five-year-old made a bloodless debut for Nicholls in a Grade Two chase under Paul Carberry at the northern venue.
Nicholls, who also confirmed that Denman would make his seasonal bow in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28, added that Kauto Stone's long-term target would be the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham next March.
One that could take on Denman in the Lexus is the Mouse Morris-trained China Rock. Absent since being pulled up with a tendon injury in the Gold Cup last March, China Rock was one of the most improved chasers in training last term, finishing third to Kauto Star in the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal, having beaten Sizing Europe at Punchestown previously.
"He's good and we're training him for the Lexus," Morris reported of the Presenting gelding. "He had stem-cell treatment, just like War Of Attrition had.
"He was in the process of running a massive race in the Gold Cup and I'm not sure if it happened coming down the hill, but he was still bang there three-out. Fingers crossed, he'll be back soon and if he doesn't make the Lexus, it will be the Irish Hennessy."
Paul Nolan has decided to aim Joncol, successful in the 2010 Hennessy, at the English equivalent at Newbury tomorrow week. A 12-length winner at Thurles on his reappearance, Joncol is set to carry 11st 6lb in the prestigious handicap, and is a best-priced 14/1 to deliver a first Irish-trained triumph since 1980.
Kauto Star, meanwhile, is among six to have been declared for the Betfair Chase at Haydock tomorrow.
The Gold Cup hero Long Run is 10/11 to maintain his superiority over the former champion, with Diamond Harry, Weird Al, Time For Rupert and Pure Faith completing a cracking line up for the Grade One.