Joncol (far side) sees off Cooldine to win last year's Hennessy Gold Cup ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Going For Gold

Nolan: Joncol fit and ready for Gold Cup defense

Trainer Paul Nolan is pleased with the defending champ’s preparations for Sunday’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown

TRAINER PAUL NOLAN believes that Joncol is in peak condition as he prepares to defend his Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The 8-year-old scored an impressive win when sent off 9/4 favourite in last year’s contest, defeating the highly-rated Cooldine by a short-head.

Under the guidance of jockey Alain Cawley, Joncol put in a solid performance among Grade One company last time out, running into a third-place finish behind Pandorama and Money Trix in the Lexus Chase.

Speaking to At The Races yesterday, Nolan appeared confident that his charge was preparing nicely to reproduce another winning performance.

We had three or four months where we had a torrid time with him as he got a bit of an infection in his leg. It seemed very trivial to start off with but you couldn’t believe the size his leg swelled up to. Hopefully that’s sorted now and we’re hoping that he’ll be at his peak for the Hennessy.

We’re going to have to improve another 20lb for him to be a Gold Cup contender, but we’re hoping that he’s improved eight to 10 lengths from the Lexus to have a good chance in the Hennessy.

Nolan will undoubtedly be heartened by the fact that Lexus winner Pandorama will not go to post on Sunday having been ruled out with a hock injury.

Joncol is currently the 11/4 second-favourite with bookmakers for the Hennessy, with Pride of Dulcote at the head of the field having been backed in from 7/2 to 7/4.

The Paul Nicholls-trained chaser won on his seasonal debut at Newbury in late December, seeing off the highly-fancied Punchestowns by a head.