The John Durkan Memorial Chase (Sunday 2.00, Punchestown), is named after the man who was going to start his training career with the now legendary Istabraq as his stable star. Sadly, he was struck-down with fatal Leukaemia at the age of 31.
This prestigious 2½-mile race has been won by some of the big names of Irish Jumps Racing, including Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Kicking King and Imperial Call, whilst Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh have teamed-up to win 2 of the last 3 renewals. Winners in the last decade have been aged 6 to 8.
5 Runners are set to line-up for the 2016 John Durkan Memorial Chase.
The second highest-rated of the 3 Willie Mullins runners, and looks sure to improve for his seasonal debut, where he looked slightly lucky to beat the re-opposing Outlander over 2½-miles. Mullins suggested that he would step-up in trip after that, but seems to have backtracked to allow him to take his chance. Ruby Walsh prefers Djakadam though, and Alechi Inois has 9lb to find with his stablemate.
Also trained by Willie Mullins, and he made it third time lucky at the Cheltenham Festival when winning the JLT Novices Chase in March. The form of that race has yet to be substantially boosted, but he did win by 3-lengths, and could be ideally suited by this trip. Does have 12lb to find with stablemate Djakadam though.
Bids to become the first horse since Merry Gale in 1995 to win consecutive renewals of this race, but is rated 9lb and upwards better than his rivals. He also has several pieces of form that suggest he’s that much better, including his 12-length defeat of Valseur Lido in last year’s renewal, and his runner-up finishes in two Cheltenham Gold Cups and two Punchestown Gold Cups.
Looks to have improved slightly this year, and desperately unlucky to fall when in with a winning chance last time. Than made it 0 from 3 at Punchestown though, and he’s better at Leopardstown.
Made the most of being race-fit and receiving 4lb when beating Outlander on his last start, but could still be improving. His stable was in red-hot form then though, and have been a bit cold in recent weeks.
John Durkan Memorial Chase Tip
Djakadam would ideally prefer a bit further and the ground to be a bit softer but, his form is far superior to that of his rivals, he should win. The defeat of Vroum Vroum Mag last weekend looks to have made the bookies want to take him on but, as Djakadam won from the front last year, Ruby Walsh hopefully won’t be over confident on him, as he was on the mare.
Tip: Djakadam @ 6/4 PaddyPower, Betfair Sportsbook – at time of writing but it’s always worth a quick look at Oddschecker for the best odds.