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Joncol to repeat Hennessy heroics

The Hennessy Gold Cup has been a good race for favourites in recent years, with four of the last five renewals all going the way of the market leader.

However, Pride Of Dulcote doesn't appeal as one to maintain that strike-rate at Leopardstown tomorrow.

Paul Nicholls, who trains Pride Of Dulcote, is going for his second win in the race with a French-bred following Neptune Collonges' triumph in 2009.

While not dismissing the eight-year-old altogether, the fact remains that what Pride Of Dulcote has achieved over fences so far falls well short of what will be required here.

There certainly appears to be better value options available. In particular, China Rock and last year's hero Joncol deserve closer inspection. China Rock is available at up to 12/1, and represents a cracking each-way option at that.

He comfortably beat Sizing Europe at Punchestown in October, and his subsequent lay-off would suggest that he may not have been quite right when third behind that one and Kauto Star at Down Royal a month later.

That said, if both horses are at the top of their game, it would be a surprise if Joncol doesn't prevail. Paul Nolan's charge has taken time to find his form, but there was definite improvement when he finished third to Pandorama in the Lexus at Christmas.

That one's absence will obviously help Joncol's cause now, and Alain Cawley's mount ought to progress past Money Trix, which finished three parts of a length in front of him in the Lexus. At 3/1, he looks a fair bet to regain his crown.

Earlier, Mikael D'Haguenet is out to redeem his reputation in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase. The 2009 Cheltenham Festival winner looked to suffer from the bounce factor when flopping behind Realt Dubh at the Dublin venue after Christmas.

Having had more than a month to regroup, and over a trip that will suit better than two miles did last time, he ought to get back to winning ways now. Granted, on their day, any of Mikael D'Haguenet's four rivals could put it up to him but, all things being equal, you would expect the selection's class to carry him through.

Irish Independent