Nolan's Joncol again looks the one to beat in Hennessy
Published 05/02/2011 | 05:00
The Hennessy Gold Cup fixture at Leopardstown is traditionally one of the best cards of the year, and tomorrow's programme doesn't disappoint. While I don't ride in the feature, I did school Cooldine at Punchestown on Sunday and he felt well.
He has disappointed this term, but he will go in the soft ground, which his stablemate Kempes may not appreciate. However, it'll be hard to wrest the cup back off Joncol.
I spoke to Paul Nolan about Joncol recently, and he said that nothing went right for him earlier in the season, but that he hasn't missed a day since finishing third in the Lexus Chase. He looks the horse to beat.
In the Grade One juvenile hurdle I ride Pena Dorada for Elaine Burke. Barry Keniry, who won on Pena Dorada at Kelso in October, tells me that he is a front-running type, so that might be to his advantage around Leopardstown.
It's going to be a tricky contest to win, though. Dermot Weld's Unaccompanied hacked up on her debut, but a lack of experience may count against her at this level.
Gordon Elliott's Toner D'Oudairies could be the one. He ran flatly at Leopardstown last time, but you can ignore that, as Gordon has freshened him up since. I rode work beside him yesterday and he seemed in great nick, so he should go close.
In the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle, I ride Endless Intrigue for Mr Weld. He ran well to be second in a maiden hurdle after Christmas, but he is going to find it tough here. There are 10 runners, so if he's in the first five, it would be a fair effort.
Mr Weld's other runner, Hidden Universe, may be the pick. I'd imagine Zaidpour will be a more potent threat for being freshened up, but Hidden Universe looks the business. He is a Grade One bumper winner and was very impressive here last time, so it's hard to see past him.
Mikael D'Haguenet should get his season back on track in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase. When we schooled at Punchestown, he looked to jump fluently for Paul Townend, and galloped on well to pass me on Cooldine.
The thing to remember about his defeat last time is that he had taken a heavy fall the time before, and he might not have been over it. He looks as though he is now, so he should win.
I also ride Might Be Magic for Tom Foley in the two-mile handicap hurdle. He is a horse that has benefited for the application of a tongue-tie recently, and he has a live each-way chance off a light weight here.
Gordon Elliott's Grey Soldier may be the one to beat. He always goes well fresh, and comes here having not run since October. When I rode him in work at Gordon's yesterday morning he felt fit and well, so I'd expect him to figure prominently.
I also fancy Seamus Fahey's Caolaneoin in the bumper. He was a second to Lovethehigherlaw, which Willie Mullins rates highly, on his debut, and that form ought to be good enough.
My best chance of a winner at Naas today may be in the Opera Hat Novice Chase on Prince Erik, which was second for me over course and distance last time. With conditions in his favour, I'd expect him to be thereabouts again.
Davy's double: Mikael D'Haguenet and Caolaneoin