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John Durkan Memorial Chase preview

The weather's brisk and the National Hunt season is in full swing. If your whole racing year is based around Cheltenham, then you'd better be keeping a close eye on what goes on in Ireland.

Taking on this weekend's feature race from Punchestown is prolific racing blogger, Sam Preen, @SamPreen.

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John Durkan Memorial Chase
1400 Punchestown
2m4f, €80,000.


Preview originally posted here.

Baily Green
Had a fine time of things a few seasons ago, racking up a long string of victories, which came undone by Twilight in a thrilling finish at Punchestown, but went on a long losing run, having run his best race when second to Texas Jack back in January, and posted a disappointing effort over hurdles after that. Fell in the Champion Chase, and was soundly beaten by the aptly named Bog Warrior in the mud at Navan, before being beaten by old foe Sizing Europe at Punchestown. Won a minor chase in May, but pilled up before three out on his seasonal debut, and finished badly distressed at Navan last month.

Boston Bob
Boasts an unbeaten record over this trip, and registered his last victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup, from First Lieutenant. Soundly beaten on his comeback at Down Royal, which was out of character for him, having won both starts after a break. Entitled to come on tons for that run, and capable of getting the better of a few of these, who he’s previously beaten.

Don Cossack
The Gigginstown Jolly will surprisingly be ridden by Brian O’Connell, instead of Barry Geraghty, as previously mentioned, but “The Don” has won both starts as a fully-fledged chaser, albeit facing only five rivals in both races. Warrants tons of respect at top level, but if runners stand their ground, he may find things tougher than usual.

Lord Windermere
Third to Boston Bob last Feburary, before winning the RSA, he failed to fire for most of last season, but sprung a surprise in a thrilling Gold Cup, holding on for dear life under a possessed Davy Russell, landing the spoils and sending punters to consult the formbook, or throw it in the bin. Being a Gold Cup winner, he warrants plenty of respect, but may need this run to get going, and interesting to see how he’ll fare on his comeback, with a second Gold Cup the main aim.

Rathlan
No win since forging clear from Hidden Cyclone at Galway last July, but has shown very little since, but showed a hint of promise when a distant fifth to Boston Bob in April. Finished fifty lengths last of seven at Clonmel on his comeback, so easily ignored.

Texas Jack
Faced off against a few of these previously, beating Baily Green back in January, and losing out to Boston Bob in last year’s Dr. P.J. Moriarty Chase last Feburary, after getting the better of Lord Windermere last January. Rarely seen these days, and his participation depends on a piece of work this week. Though he boasts a modest strike rate over this trip, if he’s on a going day, he’s all heart. Comes with obvious warning signs, due to his absence, though.

Conclusion:
A race largely revolving around Don Cossack, who bids for a hat trick on his first season as a proper chaser, but his last three wins have come in Graded races with only a few rivals, and it’s interesting seeing him back in a proper test, but TEXAS JACK gets the nod, having beaten both Lord Windermere and Baily Green previously. He’s been aimed at this for a while, and if he gets the green light, he can defy his lay off and run a huge race for connections, having hardly disgraced himself in the Irish Hennessy. Boston Bob, who beat Texas Jack, boasts a 6-6 record over this trip, and can be the main danger to the Gigginstown jolly.

Texas Jack @ 10/1 E/W (Betvictor)

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