independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Ruby can help Noble Prince rise above crowd at Thurles

Noble Prince is tentatively fancied to prevail in a middling renewal of the John Meagher Memorial Chase on this afternoon's run-of-the-mill Thurles card.

Ruby Walsh partners Paul Nolan's nine-year-old for a first time, with Barry Geraghty preferring Noel Meade's Realt Dubh and Davy Russell aboard likely favourite Quito De La Roque for Gigginstown House Stud. Those two, though, have shown their best form on testing ground, while the forecast good going will suit Noble Prince ideally.

Successful in the Jewson Chase under an inspired AP McCoy at Cheltenham in 2011, he has ultimately failed to come on from that. Still, there was plenty to like about his return fourth to the subsequent Grade One winner Roi Du Mee at Punchestown.

Over a near three-mile trip that day, Noble Prince was bang there jumping the second last, only to falter between the final two fences. In the circumstances, he should come on plenty for it, and the drop back to this two-mile-six-furlong trip is ideal.

In truth, the six runners for this €27,500 Listed race are a fairly motley crew. However, it is significant that Noble Prince, for all that he has been frustrating, is the second highest rated contender.

His mark of 154 is just three pounds inferior to that of Quito De La Roque – which is conceding 10lbs – and upwards of nine pounds superior to the rest.

Russell rides the disappointing Raise Hell for Willie Mullins in the opening beginners' chase. A maiden hurdle winner at the north Tipperary track in February, he is hardly a lost cause after two tame chasing defeats, but Gentleman Duke might take this chance to get his head in front for Arthur Moore and David Casey.

JP McManus' five-year-old has just two Sligo victories to his name in 28 starts across three years. He clearly isn't one to invest much faith in, but his two recent placed efforts over fences haven't been without a degree of promise.

Sean Byrne's Catimini appeals as a pretty solid option under Kevin Sexton in the mares' maiden hurdle after a luckless second at Galway, with Gigginstown's Wrath Of Titans napped in the bumper. Dessie Hughes' runaway point-to-point winner found only Moyle Park too good on his track bow in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper at Punchestown in April, so he should be up to scoring in this more modest company.

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