Nolan reveals ambitious plans for Prince
Ahead of Noble Prince's seasonal bow at The Curragh this Sunday, Paul Nolan yesterday revealed ambitious plans for the Cheltenham Festival winner that could include a tilt at the King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.
Successful in the Grade Two Jewson Novices' Chase in March under a vintage Tony McCoy drive, Noble Prince subsequently crashed out at the second-last in the Powers Gold Cup with the race at his mercy. That was to prove the last act of a fine campaign that also saw him finish second in consecutive Grade Ones at Leopardstown behind Realt Dubh, which was the prime beneficiary of his Fairyhouse spill.
Noel Meade has also pencilled in Realt Dubh to make his reappearance at Limerick on Sunday.
Should both horses come through their respective engagements, they are likely to renew rivalry in the Poplar Chase over two miles at Naas on October 29.
However, with Noble Prince's two best efforts coming over two and a half miles at Cheltenham and Fairyhouse, Nolan is keen to explore the possibility of stepping up to three miles, and a Christmas date with Gold Cup hero Long Run is an option.
"We definitely have the King George in mind," he confirmed yesterday. "The John Durkan Chase (over two and a half miles at Punchestown on December 11) is a race that we could take in after Naas, but where we go will be ground-dependent.
"Noble Prince is better on better ground and the likes of Bostons Angel and Quito De La Roque seem to be dour stayers, so it could be very hard for us to beat them unless conditions were favourable. For that reason, we may need to look abroad."
Noble Prince, engaged in the Listed Finale Stakes on Sunday, is a 16/1 shot for Kempton, and Nolan added that the seven-year-old has improved since last term.
Nolan also had upbeat news of his 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup winner Joncol. The giant eight-year-old has been sidelined since finishing third in this year's Hennessy in February and underwent an operation to remove a bone spur "the size of a golf ball" from the back of his knee in the interim.
"Joncol is back in full swing and I couldn't be happier with him. There is a race for him at Thurles in the first week in November, so that's where he'll go, all being well," said Nolan.
In the two days following that November 3 fixture at Thurles, the Jessica Harrington-trained pair Bostons Angel and Oscars Well may return to the fray at Down Royal.
Bostons Angel completed a hat-trick of Grade Ones in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March, though a final-flight blunder cost Oscars Well dearly in his quest to do likewise in the novice hurdle that was eventually won by First Lieutenant.
Harrington also divulged that she is considering paying the £17,500 fee to supplement Dragon Pulse for the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on October 22.