Min Presented With A Stern Test In The John Durkan 

Posted: 6th December 2019

 

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Last year’s winner Min heads a tremendous nine-strong field for the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase which is the centrepiece of a high-class card at the home of Irish Jump Racing on Sunday. 
 
Twelve months ago Min made a successful return to action in this race, defeating another of Sunday's rivals Shattered Love, and he will be looking to win first time out for the fifth season in succession.
 
The eight-year-old will be running for the first time since chasing home Un De Sceaux in a Grade 1 over two miles at this track last April having previously produced one of the performances of the season to defeat Politologue by 20 lengths at Aintree. Min will be the mount of Paul Townend and he will be joined in the line up by three high-class stablemates. 
 
Last season’s Arkle Chase hero Duc Des Genievres will take his chance as he looks to bounce back from a defeat in last month’s Fortria Chase and he will be joined by Real Steel who returned to action with a Grade 2 success at Down Royal last month and last season’s Ryanair Gold Cup hero Voix Du Reve. Willie Mullins is searching for is sixth victory in the race, his first having come with the great Florida Pearl in 2001.

For big race jockey Robbie Power, the opportunity to ride Duc Des Genievres is one he is eagerly looking forward to. 

"I have never sat on Duc Des Genievres but I'm delighted to have picked up the ride for Willie Mullins - Punchestown has been lucky for us," Power said. 

"Willie often runs a lot of horses in these good Grade 1 races and I've been lucky enough to win Grade 1's at Punchestown on Saldier and Chacun Pour Soi so it would be nice if Duc Des Genievres could be another one. 

"Sizing John won this race in 2017 when stepping up in trip from two miles and this will be the first time Duc Des Genievres will be running over two and a half miles since he won his beginners chase last season and I think returning to this trip will play to his strengths as I don't see stamina being an issue."

Power added: "It looks a very good renewal of the John Durkan, as you would expect, and Min and Presenting Percy would appear to be the horses we have to beat. Paul Townend has a lot of ammunition to choose from for Willie Mullins and I'm sure it is the hardest part of his job and I'm just looking forward to the opportunity on Duc Des Genievres, who proved last season that he has plenty of class."
 
In a cracking renewal of the Durkan Presenting Percy also takes his chance and he will be running for the first time since an unplaced showing in last year’s Gold Cup. Pat Kelly’s dual Cheltenham Festival hero will be making his seventh appearance at Punchestown with his previous success at the track coming in a novice handicap hurdle back in November 2016. 

Davy Russell hasn't sat on Presenting Percy since the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season but is excited to renew the partnership.

"I'm delighted Presenting Percy is back on Sunday and I'm looking forward to getting started back on him," Russell commented. "I haven't sat on him yet (this season) but the John Durkan is a nice starting point for him. He is probably really a three-miler and the Durkan is two and a half miles but he has been a great horse for me and I just can't wait to get back on him on Sunday and get his season started."  

Anibale Fly starts out on a path that could lead to another assault on both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Aintree Grand National. The Tony Martin inmate took second in last season’s Gold Cup before running a fine fifth to Tiger Roll at Aintree the following month. This will be the nine-year-old’s first outing since then.
 
Gordon Elliott’s sole Durkan success came with subsequent Gold Cup hero Don Cossack and he is hoping that Shattered Love can go one place better than last year following a confidence boosting success at Clonmel lately. The trainer also relies on the classy Hardline who won at Grade 1 level at Limerick last Christmas. 
 
The line up is completed by Noel Meade’s classy inmate Snow Falcon who disappointed at Down Royal last time but previously ran out a very impressive winner of a Grade 2 at Gowran. Meade is chasing his first victory in the race. 
 
Elsewhere a quality field of five has turned out for the first running of the Listed Voler La Vedette Mares Novice Hurdle. 
 
Minella Melody is the star name in the line up following her impressive debut over hurdles at Cork last month. Just a week on from Honeysuckle’s Hatton’s Grace Hurdle triumph this five-year-old will bid to strengthen the hand of Henry de Bromhead, Rachael Blackmore and owner Kenny Alexander in the mares division. 
 
Ard Abhainn and Mount Ida both impressed in winning their maiden hurdles late in the autumn and they give Gordon Elliott a strong hand. 

 

Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase

 

Year     Horse                        Jockey                   Trainer              Age        Price 
2018    Min                            R Walsh            W P Mullins              7           1/1Fav
2017    Sizing John              R M Power       J Harrington             7           2/1 
2016    Djakadam                 R Walsh           W P Mullins               7          4/5Fav 
2015    Djakadam                 R Walsh           W P Mullins               6          7/4Fav
2014    Don Cossack           B T O'Connell  Gordon Elliott            7          13/8
2013    Arvika Ligeonniere  R Walsh           W P Mullins               8          4/7Fav
2012    Flemenstar              A E Lynch         Peter Casey               7          1/1Fav
2011    Rubi Light                A E Lynch         Robert Hennessy      6         5/2JtFav
2010    Abandoned 
2009    Joncol                      A P Cawley      Paul Nolan                 6          9/4Fav

 

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