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Joncol: An impressive return at Thurles
Joncol made a winning reappearance in the John Meagher Memorial Chase at Thurles.
Paul Nolan's eight year old ran only three time during a truncated last campaign, finishing third behind Kempes in defence of his Hennessy Gold Cup Crown.
The giant gelding had disappointed on his seasonal return 12 months ago but fared much better against his three rivals this time around.
The field were still tightly bunched behind leader, and favourite, Cooldine with four still to jump but first Clan Tara and then Roberto Goldback dropped back as the big two turned the screw.
Joncol jumped alongside Willie Mullins' chaser - himself on something of a retrieval mission this season - at the second last and assumed control on the run to the final fence despite conceding 10lbs to his rival.
Barry Geraghty picked put a great stride at that obstacle and his mount responded as they pulled clear to record a 12 length success.
Nolan said: "They went a good, consistent pace on that ground. Barry thought he was beat going to the second last but he filled himself up again after that.
"He'll definitely come on a lot for the run. I'm just hoping to have a clear run with him this season.
"He's had a lot of ifs and buts the last few seasons, but thank god there are no hiccups so far this time.
"I think if everything goes right, he could be a 10lb better horse than the highest rating he has achieved so far.
"We'll see how he comes out of this. The Hennessy has been the plan but we'll also think about the John Durkan at Punchestown - a race he has won before.
"This is an ideal way to start the season."
The winner was cut to 12-1 from 20s for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury by Stan James.