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Noland can jump to it at Punchestown

By Jimmy Walker

Jockey Sam Thomas, who has been throught he mill in recent weeks despite riding a double on Thursday, can put the smile back on the face of trainer Paul Nicholls by winning the John Durcan Memorial Chase at Punchestown tomorrow.

On his last visit to an Irish racecourse, Noland turned out to be a winner at Down Royal when beating Finger Onthepulse by 12 lengths with the Edward O’Grady-trained Skys The Limit in third.

Notre Pere, who was fourth that day, franked the form with some style by winning the Troytown Chase at Navan and this points to the chance of Noland in what looks like being a tricky enough contest.

War Of Attrition came back after a two-year absence because of a tendon injury to win at Punchestown last month and has since followed up at Thurles.

As a former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, he has to have a major chance and Mouse Morris his trainer has stated that he is better than ever.

In addition, jockey Davey Russell is the man in form these days and that being the case, War of Attrition will not be far away, although the fact that he was injured always leaves a doubt about his future.

Watson Lake, trained by Noel Meade, has won at Punchestown this season after a long period with success while Snowey Morning, trained by Willie Mullins, was disappointing in the Morris Oil Clonmel chase last time out.

Mansony is Ulster-owned and trained by Arthur Moore.

At his best, he could win for he is a classy type while One Cool Cookie is another who comes into the reckoning.

The Listener is the most interesting one in the line-up for he is bidding to win for the second year running.

Last time out he was fourth at Down Royal behind Kauto Star after leading for most of the way and then running out of steam after hitting the second last.

He was ease from then on and finished a rather remote fourth.

He will be ridden as usual by Darryl Jacob and represents trainer Nick Mitchell who is bidding to win his first race since taking out a licence.

Noland is a young horse with scope for improvement and provided Thomas has regained his confidence, could well have too much pace for the likes of War of Attrition over a sharp distance of two and a half miles.

O’Grady may take the Kimpton Vale Handicap hurdle with the Big Picture who will be ridden by Andrew McNamara.

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