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Cooldine is beaten in style by red-hot Joncol

PAUL NOLAN'S Joncol started his season in the best possible fashion when beating Cooldine in some style in the John Meagher Memorial Chase at Thurles.

Willie Mullins' Cooldine was sent off a narrow favourite, possibly because he was in receipt of 10lb from the former Irish Hennessy winner Joncol.

Champion jockey Paul Townend set out to make all on Cooldine, who jumped well at the head of affairs on his first start since pulling up in the Lexus chase. He appeared to have Joncol in trouble turning into the straight but Barry Geraghty pulled his mount over to the far side and found an impressive turn of foot.

The 7/4 chance jumped the last like a fresh horse and powered away to win by 12 lengths.

Roberto Goldback, having his first start for Dessie Hughes, travelled well for the most part but was eventually beaten a long way. The winner was cut to 12/1 from 20s for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury by Stan James.

Nolan said: "They went a good, consistent pace on that ground. Barry thought he was beat going to the second last but he filled himself up again after that.

"He'll definitely come on a lot for the run. I'm just hoping to have a clear run with him this season.

"He's had a lot of ifs and buts the last few seasons, but thank god there are no hiccups so far this time.

"I think if everything goes right, he could be a 10lb better horse than the highest rating he has achieved so far.

"We'll see how he comes out of this. The Hennessy has been the plan but we'll also think about the John Durkan at Punchestown -- a race he has won before. This is an ideal way to start the season."

Geraghty was completing a double as he had scored earlier on the card on Eyesontheprize (11/2) for Pat Fahy in the Templemore Mares Maiden Hurdle.

"She'll get further and hopefully she might be a bit special," said Fahy.

"We'll find a mares' novice race for her. She'll get freshened up now and go again in about three weeks."

Another potential top-class prospect was in action when Gordon Elliott's Mount Benbulben (1/2 favourite) opened his account over hurdles at the second time of asking.

A smart bumper horse, he was bought for £250,000 by Barry Connell at the Brightwells sale at Cheltenham in April but his new connections suffered a scare on his hurdling debut when he clipped heels with another runner and came down on the Flat.

Paul Carberry dropped him right out in the Cashel Maiden Hurdle and made ground effortlessly through runners before coasting clear for a two-and-a-half-length success.

"It was a messy race at Galway the last day," said Elliott. "Paul did a good job of settling him today. He'll probably go to Navan for the (Grade Two) Monksfield Novice Hurdle (November 27) and he'll probably get an entry for the Royal Bond as well."