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In Brief: Prince drops to minimum

Paul Nolan's classy hurdler Noble Prince is set to drop to the minimum trip for the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park next month.

The son of Montjeu barely came off the bridle when winning a conditions hurdle at Naas on his first outing of the campaign before being placed twice in Graded company.

He was not beaten far into third in the woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown over three miles last time, but Nolan is keen to see how the strong-travelling six-year-old fares over shorter.

"The plan is to go for the Red Mills at Gowran Park with him next," said Nolan. "That is dropping back to two miles but we want to see how he gets on and then we can make a plan from there. We'll have a think about Cheltenham but we'll probably give him an entry in the County Hurdle, the Coral Cup and we might even look at the Champion Hurdle.

"We're keeping our options open at the moment."

Castle given Thyestes task

King Johns Castle is under orders for the Tendrleen Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park on Thursday week.

The 11-year-old, owned by JP McManus, has only had two runs since finishing second to Comply Or Die in the 2008 John Smith's Grand National.

Arthur Moore's charge suffered a tendon injury which restricted him to a sole outing over hurdles last March.

He made a belated return to the bigger obstacles last month at Punchestown and the long-term objective will again be Aintree.

"He's an intended runner at Gowran," said the Naas trainer. "He's come on for his last run and this trip should suit him better. It's a tough race but he'll take his chance. Naturally we are hoping he'll go to Aintree for the Grand National again."

His odds for the National on April 10 vary between 33/1 and 50/1.

Alpha bids to break duck

Alpha Ridge will bid to break his duck over fences in the Grade Two Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase at Naas on Saturday, weather permitting.

The eight-year-old was beaten just a neck by China Rock on his fencing introduction at Galway before chasing home Pandorama in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse.

He failed to land a blow in the Knight Frank Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas but trainer Paul Nolan is hopeful he can bounce back.

"We were disappointed with him the last day as his jumping just fell to pieces, but he seems in good form at the moment," said Nolan. "All being well, Alpha Ridge will go (to Naas) for the good novice chase. Hopefully he can get a win as he deserves it, but we're not going to go for a beginners' chase at this stage of the season."