Willie Mullins will unleash a classy dual-pronged attack in Sunday's John Durkan Memorial Chase, as a feast of top notch Irish chasers aim to throw their hat into the Cheltenham Gold Cup ring, but this Punchestown Grade 1 is a tight encounters for punters to decipher and we look to find the winner in our race preview.
Djakadam Aims To Kick Of Campaign With A Win
Djakadam has been installed as the 9/4 favourite with Paddy Power and if he can replicate his sparkling run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where he finished a gallant second to Coneygree, then he will certainly be on the vicinity in the closing stages of this 2m 4f test.
However, this trip is an absolute minimum and he could well be vulnerable to some speedier rivals, and whilst he could reach the highest over fences this season amongst this field, he could struggle to live with speedier types, so the 9/4 is worth taking on.
The second shot fired from the Mullins' gun is Valseur Lido, who was another that produced his best when sent over 3m 1f, as he shone brightest in the Grade 1 Growise Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival, but like Djakadam he could lack the tactical speed first time up and at 3/1 with bet365 can be ignored.
Gilgamboa The Selection At Punchestown
Enda Bolger's Gilgamboa is one runner who will not lack for that turn of foot as he was a fine winner of the 2m 4f Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival, and having been often found over shorter trips he appeared to relish the extra distance.
Available at 4/1 with Betfred, Gilgamboa is still relatively lightly-raced over fences and this could be his season to propel into the big time and already a 14/1 shot for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, he could prove to be a lot shorter after bounding to victory here.
Cyclone Aims To Blow Rivals Away
Hidden Cyclone kicked off his season with a decent win in the Fortria Chase and Shark Hanlon's veteran will now aim to bag this prize, but whilst he will be race-fit he has often struggled at the highest level and is worth scratching off at 8/1 with most firms, whilst Foxrock and Clarcam, both 10/1, could be another pair that struggle at this level.
So, whilst the money is sure to come for the Mullins pair that dominate the head of the betting, they could be seen best over longer in the months to come, and this could well leave the door open to Gilgamboa, who can use this is a springboard to a feast of Graded wins this season.