Noble Prince's trainer Paul Nolan
©Healy Racing Photos
By Alan Magee
The thorny subject of Irish-trained runners’ handicap marks in Britain has again reared its head after Paul Nolan expressed his disappointment with the assessment of his Coral Cup hope Noble Prince.
The Montjeu gelding provided the Co. Wexford handler with his second Festival winner at Prestbury Park two years ago when taking the Jewson Novices’ Chase but the discrepancy in ratings between the Irish and English handicapper has surprised Nolan.
The Enniscorthy trainer said, “He’s in good form and the plan is to go for the Coral Cup but I couldn’t believe he’s got an English mark over hurdles of 153. He was only 144 the last time he ran over hurdles in Ireland (three years ago).
“He’s only run once in a handicap hurdle and that was in the County Hurdle off a mark of 146 (when fifth to Thousand Stars in 2010).”
The nine-year-old, who has a definite preference for good ground, has just run once this season when down the field behind For Non Stop in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October.
However Nolan is not worried by the absence from the track saying, “He’ll go to Cheltenham now without another run but we will probably bring him to the Curragh for a day out.”
Sweeney Tunes is also likely to travel over next month, and could take in either the Jewson Novices’ Chase or the Putteney Land Investments Novice Handicap Chase.
However Nolan is fearful the latter option may be ruled out by the handicapper. “He’s gone up to 137 after finishing second to Farrells Fancy in the Leopardstown Handicap Chase, so his English mark could go over 140.”
Entries for the 11 handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival close at mid-day tomorrow.