Jim Culloty's shock Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere will make his hotly-anticipated seasonal reappearance on Sunday afternoon, as the eight-year-old will face five rivals in what is an intriguing renewal of the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown. We preview the Grade 1 event here as a host of star Irish chasers do battle in the 2m 4f showpiece.
Having struggled to land a blow since his 2013 RSA Chase win at the Cheltenham Festival, Culloty's stable star then produced the goods on the big stage once more as he fought off On His Own and The Giant Bolster in one of the most memorable finishes in recent memory. Now he will aim to kick off his campaign with a victory, but he could find things very tough over a trip that is a little on the short side.
Down the years this John Durkan Memorial Chase has thrown up some top class winners and the pair who are fighting out for betting supremacy is the in-form Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack and Willie Mullins's Boston Bob, who was last seen finishing third in the JNWine Champion Chase.
Don Cossack is a real smart performer on his day and showed when picking up the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase last season that he is a class act, but a few placed efforts to follow up saw him just go off the boil. However, he has been in sparkling form this term as having landed the Star Best For Racing Coverage Chase at Punchestown the seven-year-old then landed the Powers Irish Whiskey Chase at Down Royal, and he is arguably lining up in the form of his life.
The aforementioned Boston Bob will strip fitter for his third behind Road To Riches on his first start of the season and he showed when winning the Melling Chase and Punchestown Gold Cup at the back end of last season that he is a class act on his day and he will be a major thorn in Don Cossack's side.
Noel Meade's Texas Jack hasn't been seen since finishing fourth in the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup, but that could have been too far for him that day and this trip of 2m 4f should prove ideal, so you can't write him off completely in this race.
Mouse Morris's Baily Green has failed to reach the heights of his youth where he was second in the Arkle Challenge Trophy behind Sprinter Sacre and he was well beaten in the Fortria Chase last time out, whilst Rathlin will complete the sextet and often struggles at the highest level and will most likely play a supporting role again.