Willie Mullins will be double-handed for the upcoming John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown with the Irish saddler bidding for a change in fortunes in the Grade One event.
The Irish saddler has only achieved one place in the previous ten renewals with Florida Pearl’s victory in 2001 now a distant memory.
But with 2/1 shot Arvika Ligeonniere joining Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs, Mullins has a very real chance of repeating past glories.
The former was a comfortable recent winner in the Clonmel Oil Chase on his seasonal reappearance, defeating Punchestown rivals Toner D’Oudairies and Texas Jack in the process.
Given that the previous ten John Durkan winners have all come from the first four in the betting, at prices of 7/1 or below, the aforementioned pair may not be worth worrying about on this occasion.
However, ante-post betting favourite Flemenstar, last year’s winner, will be in Arvika Ligeonnniere’s sights and there’s every chance, now with Tony Martin after being switched from Peter Casey’s yard this term, that he can be beaten.
The son of Flemensfirth failed to push on from that victory and looked a little too eager when clearing the fences while scoring at Navan last time out.
And any weaknesses are likely to be exposed by Mullins’ rampant chaser, a three-time Grade One winner who’s been triumphant on five of his previous seven starts.
Undoubtedly, Flemenstar will be made to work hard over the 2m4f trip if he’s to justify his 6/4 favouritism.
Further down the list, Roi Du Mee is another on the upgrade with his defeat of Sizing Europe at Down Royal a recent highlight.
The 20/1 about Gordon Elliot’s entrant will certainly appeal to each-way backers hoping for an upset.
Ultimately though, recent trends suggest the market’s big names are the ones to look out for and in Arvika Ligeonniere, Willie Mullins has a star worthy of securing the top prize.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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