Djak To Be Lad Again At Punchestown

The John Durkan Chase may have only attracted a small field tomorrow but it’s a select one and there’s no doubt that four of the five runners in the Grade 1 contest will fancy their chances.

Djak To Be Lad Again
Alelchi Inois is the outsider of the five and probably the one that will struggle to make that step up to this level but his stable companion Djakadam sets the standard that the other three rivals aspire to reach.

Placed in two Gold Cups and still only a seven-year-old, Djakadam does lack the benefit of a run but…

At 5/4 he is set to win the race for a second year in a row.

The decision for Ruby Walsh to go to ride Djakadam over Douvan in Cork must have been a difficult one but if there was to be any doubt over the fitness or ability of either Djakadam or Black Hercules to win the Durkan, he surely would have been off to Cork to ride the superstar two-miler in the Hilly Way Chase.

Djakadam faces a stern test at the Kildare venue. His stable companion Black Hercules, ridden by Danny Mullins, was last seen winning a JLT and was the subject of some support in midweek at 33/1 for the Gold Cup. He is one of three potentially very progressive second season novices in the race.

Sub Lieutenant is probably most fancied to test any chinks in the armour of the favourite and understandably so. He was good at Limerick and better again at Down Royal as Henry de Bromhead continues to step him up in class and this will require a career best but he’s definitely going the right direction.

Outlander has to turn the tables with Sub Lieutenant but was going to run out a cosy winner of the Clonmel Oil before falling and Davy Russell will be delighted to have picked up that ride.

Despite the low turnout, this will not only be a fascinating watch, but surely very informative for the season ahead. Djakadam is picked to come out on top though.

All Is Well For Elliott
A tricky day for punters might be made easier by Gordon Elliott who saddles Woods Well in the second race at Cork.

The Thurles bumper winner of last month was previously second at Naas in a decent looking race and now makes his hurdling debut with Jack Kennedy onboard.

You’d have to be impressed with the manner of his victory last time and

11/4 about him could look a big price by the end of proceedings on Sunday.

Title Chaser To Notch Up Another
Rachael Blackmore is leading the way in the race to be champion conditional rider in Ireland this season and given that her initial aim was to reduce her claim to 5lbs from 7lbs and that she was the first lady rider in Ireland to turn to the paid ranks over jumps it certainly has been a memorable season.

In the finale at Mallow she rides Varene De Vauzelle for Michael Hourigan and that 4/1 shot can end a frustrating sequence of placed efforts by finally getting his head in front in what looks to be a very modest affair.

Varene De Vauzelle’s form with The Jazz Singer looks to be solid enough given the ratings involved and hopefully he can end the day on the high for us.

Recommended Bets
Djakadam 5/4 – 2.00 Punchestown
Woods Well 6/4 – 1.10 Cork
Varene De Vauzelle 11/2 – 3.50 Cork

*Prices correct at time of publication.