The feature race on an action-packed Sunday is the John Durkan Memorial Chase. The 2 mile 4 furlong contest is usually an ideal starting point for some of Ireland’s finest chasers.. Here’s the runner-by-runner guide for the race:
John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase Runner Guide
Balko Des Flos
J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry De Bromhead
One of the most progressive horses over fences last year, picking up the Galway Plate and Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. The seven-year-old flopped in the Melling Chase afterwards, with a long season seemingly taking its toll, and he returned with a mediocre effort in the JNWine.com Champion Chase when sent off favourite.
He’s back down to his ideal trip and the ground should be in his favour, but he needs to discover last season’s form to go close here.
T: J P O’Brien
Produced one of the most heart-warming stories of last season when recovering from near-death at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival to produce a shock when winning the Irish Gold Cup.
It was the only win of last season for the nine-year-old, who found life tough at the top level in two starts afterwards – he finished down the field in both Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cups – and will need to produce another shock over an inadequate trip here.
Likely to be a pipe-opener for more staying contests later on this season, so he is best avoided.
T: W P Mullins
One of the hype-horses to come from the Closutton Yard, Min had a mixed bag of form last season.
A disqualification over Christmas was quashed when routing his rivals in the inaugural running of the Dublin Chase, but he produced the performance of his life when second to Altior in the Champion Chase.
The gelding was outstayed by Politologue in the Melling Chase, but then produced a disappointing effort to finish a distant fourth in the Punchestown Champion Chase.
Given the hotly-contested nature of the two-mile division this year, it’s no shock to see him turn up here. With a season’s worth of experience over fences too, it might be that the intermediate trip is right up his street.
J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott
Won the hotly contested handicap of the Thursday of Cheltenham last year, before scoring over three miles in the highly dramatic Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown.
He looked like he was booked for a distant third place before Al Boum Photo carried out Finian’s Oscar, and his form looked flattering on paper, which was confirmed by a disappointing reappearance at Down Royal.
He’s in a difficult position currently as a handicapper in graded races, and is likely to find this contest above his standard.
J: Jack Kennedy
T: Gordon Elliott
An ultra-versatile and consistent mare, wo managed to win over three miles as well as the JLT Novices’ Chase last term.
The mare made a more than satisfactory reappearance behind Snow Falcon at Down Royal (where the Storyteller finished fifth) and she gave the impression more was to come from her this season.
With the mares allowance and the trip, she is dangerous here.