Galopin Des Champs bids to avenge his shock defeat to Fastorslow when facing his foe in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup hero had his colours lowered by the Ultima second in April’s Punchestown Gold Cup and the pair kick off their campaigns over this intermediate trip.
Galopin Des Champs scored a facile success in last year’s renewal and the defending champion is joined by four stablemates to complete the field for Sunday’s 14:30.
Blue Lord has an impressive record on seasonal debut since joining Willie Mullins’ yard but the multiple Grade 1 winner lost his way at the back end of the last campaign.
Of the others, Stattler takes a significant drop in trip, Asterion Forlonge tackles fences for the first time in more than 18 months, while Appreciate It has plenty to find on ratings after a disappointing novice chasing campaign.
The latest John Durkan odds are on the Paddy Power website and Paddy Power app, otherwise Timeform’s guide to the runners as well as betting tips from the racing boffins can be found below.
John Durkan verdict
Timeform: GALOPIN DES CHAMPS took this event in great style 12 months ago en route to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory and is confidently expected to repeat the feat and put behind him his Punchestown Gold Cup blip when overturned by Fastorslow. Martin Brassil’s upwardly-mobile chaser still rates the chief threat to Willie Mullins’ top-notcher though, ahead of Blue Lord and Appreciate It.
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change
John Durkan runners and riders
The following horses have been declared for the John Durkan Memorial Chase 2023.
Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: Mr P. W. Mullins Age: 9 Weight: 11st 12lbs
High-class hurdler (landed 2021 Supreme) and solid start over fences when landing maiden/novice events around the turn of the year. Ran to a similar level in hitting the frame in four Grade 1’s since, second in Champion Novices’ Chase at this course (24.3f) 7 months ago. No forlorn hope.
Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: M. J. M. O’Sullivan Age: 9 Weight: 11st 12lbs
High-class chaser. Below-par tenth of 15 to Theleme in Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil at Auteuil (25.4f, soft) in May but this C&D winner can bounce back on his return.
Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: Daryl Jacob Age: 8 Weight: 11st 12lbs
Made up into a top-class chaser last season, adding another Grade 1 victory to his tally at Leopardstown over Christmas. Good third of 5 to stablemate Energumene in William Hill Champion Chase here final start. Considered.
Trainer: Martin Brassil Jockey: J. J. Slevin Age: 7 Weight: 11st 12lbs
Quickly made up into a top-class chaser last term and he signed off with a 20/1 win in Punchestown Gold Cup here (24.1f, good to soft) in April. holding off a below-par Galopin Des Champs by 2¼ lengths. More is probably needed if he’s to beat the Gold Cup winner once more.
Galopin Des Champs
Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: P. Townend Age: 7 Weight: 11st 12lbs
Showed himself to be top of the chasing tree when winning 13-runner Cheltenham Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March by 7 lengths from Bravemansgame. Not at his best when beaten 2¼ lengths by Fastorslow in Punchestown Gold Cup here following month but expected to bounce back in style on his return.
Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: Rachael Blackmore Age: 8 Weight: 11st 12lbs
High-class chaser. Ran a rare poor race when pulled up in Cheltenham Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March. Sort to bounce back but this trip is short of his optimum. Tongue strap on 1st time.
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