Sunday Spectacular! Grade 1 John Durkan Chase Runner-By-Runner Preview

Envoi Allen is one of the stars set to line up in one of Monday's feature races.Envoi Allen is one of the stars set to line up in one of Monday's feature races.

John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase Runner-By-Runner Preview

Punchestown hosts an incredible card on Sunday with the action centring around the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, run over an extended 2m4f this race features some of the most exciting chasers in training. Here at Racing Tips, we have produced a runner-by-runner preview of the race, which includes a big race verdict and predicted 1-2-3.


2.00 Punchestown (John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase)

1. Allaho (T: Willie Mullins, J: Patrick Mullins)

Put up a clear career-best performance when demolishing his rivals in last season’s Ryanair Chase; Fakir D’oudairies and Tornado Flyer directly behind. Not disgraced in the 2m Punchestown Champion Chase subsequently when chasing home stablemate Chacun Pour Soi, and he is expected to be better suited by this trip, but his record on seasonal reappearance is a modest one and that includes a distant sixth in this race last year.

2. Asterion Forlonge (T: Willie Mullins, J: Bryan Cooper)

Jumping issues held him back early in his novice chase career, but he put them right when bolting up off topweight in a 2m5f handicap chase at this track in April. Now 2-3 at this venue (first fence faller only previous course start), and has won on both previous seasonal reappearances, but watching brief advised until he can prove his jumping can stand up at this level.

3. Envoi Allen (T: Henry De Bromhead, J: Racheal Blackmore)

Was a perfect 11-11 under rules before taking a mid-race fall in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Given surgery after failing to complete here afterwards, and showed the benefit of that when running out a 22l winner on seasonal reappearance at Down Royal in October. Probably didn’t learn a great deal there but this race was nominated as his target afterwards and he’s not completely exposed in this sphere.

4. Fakir D’oudairies (T: Joseph O’Brien, J: Mark Walsh)

Impressive winner of the Melling Chase at Aintree in April and subsequently finished third in the Punchestown Gold Cup. Confirmed a less demanding stamina test would see him to better effect when landing the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase on seasonal reappearance. Connections keep him at this extended 2m4f trip here, and his form figures over similar distances now read an impressive 1211. Unlikely to be far away here.

5. Franco De Port (T: Willie Mullins, J: Bryony Frost)

Something of a surprise winner of the Grade 1 2m1f novice chase at Leopardstown over Christmas but he failed to add to that in four subsequent starts. Took a heavy fall three-out when looking beat here last time out. Can go well fresh and looks less exposed than most of these but he does need a jolt of improvement on the bare figures to seriously threaten.

6. Janidil (T: Willie Mullins, J: Jody McGarvey)

Gained a first victory at the top level when seeing off stablemates Franco De Port and Asterion Forlonge at Fairyhouse in April. Subsequently chased home Energumene here over what looked an inadequate 2m, and the return to this distance looks sure to suit. Another runner whose got a solid record fresh but he’s probably got no more than each-way claims here in what looks a scintillating race.

7. Kemboy (T: Willie Mullins, J: Danny Mullins)

Four-time Grade 1 winner the most recent of those coming in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February. Subsequently well below his best in the Gold Cups at Cheltenham and Punchestown, however, and this trip looks plenty short enough for his seasonal reappearance. Beaten in seemingly weaker races on his last two seasonal reappearances; can only be watched.

8. Melon (T: Willie Mullins, J: Brian Hayes)

Admirable sort who finished a 22/1 third in this race last year, but his form completely tailed off at the backend of the season when failing to complete at the Cheltenham Festival and here in the Gold Cup. Now a 9yo and this is a testing race for his reappearance; opposable.

9. Minella Times (T: Henry De Bromhead, J: Derek O’Connor)

Provided his powerful connections with a first Grand National victory at Aintree in April when seeing off stablemate Balko Des Flos. Had previously run a pair of excellent races in competitive Leopardstown handicaps yet this trip looks sharp enough for his seasonal reappearance and this is his first attempt at Grade 1 level.

10. Tornado Flyer (T: Willie Mullins, J: Darragh O’Keeffe)

Has a slightly in and out profile but he is very good when on a going day, as shown by his close second to Min in this race last year. Ended the season with a respectable Ryanair third, but he has a bit of ground to make up with Allaho and Fakir D’oudairies on that running. Now without a win since December 2019 and looks unlikely to break his duck here.

Big Race Verdict

Envoi Allen looks a fascinating contender here having gained his first win for the De Bromhead stable in a Down Royal Grade 2 last time. He is far from a forgone conclusion holding an official rating of just 163, however, and at the prices, it is FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES who is preferred. Joseph O’Brien’s charge appeared to confirm that this was indeed his optimum distance when impressively landing the Clonmel Oil Chase last month. This clearly represents a step up from that, but at just 6yo he remains open to improvement. Allaho had the selection behind in the Ryanair Chase but his record fresh is a modest one and the Cheltenham placings can be reversed here.

  1. FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES

  2. Envoi Allen
  3. Allaho