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Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Noland claims Punchestown success

War of Attrition in action
War of Attrition battled hard but was unable to claim victory

Former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War of Attrition could only finish third as Noland ran out a game winner of the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

The Paul Nicholls-trained winner, ridden by Sam Thomas, challenged fellow British raider The Listener for the lead in the back straight.

The Listener made a bad mistake four fences from home but came back strongly on the run-in.

War Of Attrition travelled powerfully but failed to pick up on the straight.

Noland's victory in the race, which was due to be run on Sunday before being rescheduled because of frost, was a boost for jockey Thomas after a difficult couple of weeks.

The 24-year-old was unseated by both Kauto Star in the Betfair Chase and Big Buck's in the Hennessy Gold Cup and then was replaced by Tony McCoy on Master Minded in last Saturday's Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.

"It is really great for Sam to get a Grade One winner under his belt and this will get his confidence back," said Nicholls afterwards.

606: DEBATE
D_s

"He (Noland) jumped very well and although he idled in the closing stages, this was to be expected and the ground was probably not ideal for him.

"His main aim would be the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham this season and the plan is for him to have one run beforehand."

The winner is now battling with Tiday Bay for favourtism for the Cheltenham race while War of Attrition's odds for another Gold Cup win have drifted.

However, trainer Mouse Morris admitted he was pleased with his charge's display.

"He ran a very good race in the ground, as we know he doesn't like it too testing," he said.

"He travelled well and stayed on well but he was always struggling with the conditions.

"He seems to have come out of the race fine and, all being well, he will now either go to Kempton for the King George or to Leopardstown for the Lexus."


John Durkan Memorial Chase (Punchestown)

1. Noland (S Thomas) 9-4 Jt Fav
2. The Listener 9-2
3. War Of Attrition (D Russell) 9-4 Jt Fav
8 ran



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