The John Durkan Chase is a grade-1 run over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Punchestown (Sunday 1.50pm), and some of the best Irish Chasers have won it in years gone by, including the likes of Dorans Pride, Imperial Call, Florida Pearl, Beef Or Salmon and Kicking King.
The last 10 renewals have all been won by 6, 7 or 8-year-olds, and this year 5 of the 7 runners set to go to post fall into that age bracket.
The Willie Mullins trained 6-year-old improved out of all recognition from January onwards, and a handicap win was followed by two seconds in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup. He relishes soft/heavy ground, and is 6lb+ clear of all his rivals on official ratings .
Valseur Lido 3/1
Tended to hit the places in last season’s big novice chases until winning over 3-miles here at the Punchestown Festival, taking his course record to 2/1/1. No surprise if he was to go very close, though is only rated 156.
Trip and ground should be right up his street, but a mark of 150 suggests he’ll need to improve 18lb to get competitive. That’s not out of question though for this course and distance winner.
Officially the second highest rated horse on a mark of 162, but hasn’t run up to that mark in his subsequent races.
Hidden Cyclone 9/1
Grand old servant who showed he’s no back number by winning on his seasonal debut at the age of 10. A mark of 157 suggests he might not be far away with his fitness guaranteed. However his stamina at this trip is a little suspect in heavy conditions.
Put up a great performance to win at the Aintree Festival, but has disappointed in two runs so far this season. Worth noting that the stable did win this race last year though with Don Cossack.
Previous winner of this race but, at the age of 10, it’s asking a lot for him to beat younger rivals. He was travelling ominously well on his seasonal debut though when a mistake 3 out stopped him in his tracks. Was getting weight that day though, and level weights today.
There’s loads of potential improvers here amongst last season’s novices, however Djakadam could have just as much improvement in him at the age of 6. If that’s the case he should be very tough to beat here considering the two horses he finished second to on his last 2 starts were Coneygree and Don Cossack, with loads of higher-rated horses than the ones he faces today behind him.
Djakadam @ 9/4 (Paddy Power, William Hill)