Last years winner, Djakadam and superstar Douvan head the entries for Sunday’s Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown.
Placed behind both Coneygree and Don Cossack in the last two renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Djakadam, may go in search of a repeat of last years emphatic 12-length success, while interestingly trainer Willie Mullins has also left Douvan, unbeaten in 10 starts for Mullins, in the €85,000 contest as the champion trainer is responsible for four of the 13 remaining entries.
Mullins may also be represented by Black Hercules, who was last seen when winning the JLT Novice Chase at Cheltenham and recent Clonmel Oil Chase winner Alelchi Inois in the prestigious 2m4f race.
Mullins said; “We won’t finalise plans until later in the week but Djakadam won the race last year and is in good shape and I would be hoping for a real good run if he was to run in the race. Black Hercules could also make his first start of the season, he’s in good form. Douvan and Alelchi Inois have also been left in at this stage.”
Champion owners Gigginstown House Stud also look likely to be well represented with the ever improving Sub Lieutenant stepping back up to Grade 1 company after impressing in a Grade 2 at Down Royal last month, while Outlander will hope to put his recent string of seconds and then his fall at Clonmel behind him for trainer Gordon Elliott. Michael O’Leary’s team have also left Clarcam, Mozoltov and Roi Des Francs in the field.
Kerry Lee could bid to become the first British-based trainer to win the race since Paul Nicholls sent over Noland in 2008 as Lee has left Ryanair Gold Cup winner, Kylemore Lough in at the five-day forfeit stage.
Wexford-based Vinny Halley will be in search of the biggest win of his training career as recent Fortria Chase winner Arctic Skipper remains on course for the John Durkan Memorial Chase and the entries are completed by Enda Bolger’s Gilgamboa and multiple Grade 2 winner Smashing for Grand National winning trainer Mouse Morris.
The going at close of entries was good to yielding, yielding in places. Racing gets under way this Sunday at 12.25 with admission at €15/€10.