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Nolan plans hit by fresh obstacle for Joncol

All plans for Joncol are on hold until Paul Nolan's smart chaser recovers from a serious digestive problem.

It will be at least a week before Nolan and his team will know how well the eight-year-old has responded to treatment. Joncol has been plagued with problems this campaign, although he did manage to finish third in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown earlier this month after winning the three-mile feature last year.

Nolan, meanwhile, is looking forward to running Noble Prince in the Jewson Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The seven-year-old has made a highly promising start to his fencing career, making a successful debut at Punchestown in October and finishing second behind Realt Dubh in two Grade One contests at Leopardstown this winter.

Westmeath bids to book his Cheltenham ticket when he lines up in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday. The six-year-old pleased Nolan when second of 21 behind the Willie Mullins-trained Raptor over two and a half miles at Punchestown on only his second start over jumps three weeks ago.

Big Fella Thanks is likely to have one more run -- at Newbury on Saturday week -- before a third crack at the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree.

"We were absolutely over the moon with Big Fella Thanks last Saturday -- he ran an absolute blinder," said Ferdy Murphy as he reflected on his nine-year-old's fourth place behind Riverside Theatre in the Betfair Ascot Chase.

"He has come out of the race incredible. He was a handful on Monday morning; really fresh and really well."

Character Building, seventh in 2010 and a 40/1 shot this time, is another National hope set to have one more prep run.

Irish Independent