Djakadam repeats John Durkan success at Punchestown

Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up takes Grade One race under Ruby Walsh

Djakadam proved too strong in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase to repeat his victory of last year.

Ruby Walsh’s decision to partner Willie Mullins’s dual Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up on his return to action in the Grade One, rather than head to Cork for the Hilly Way Chase ride on superstar Douvan, paid dividends with a determined success.

The 4-5 favourite tracked the front-running Sub Lieutenant until touching down over five out in a share of the lead, and little separated the pair over the next few fences.

Outlander was stalking them and emerged as the chief threat when Djakadam took it up, but the market leader’s superior stamina came into play as he stretched a length and a quarter clear.


Mullins said: “I’m happy that he’s learned to find a leg at last, when he made a mistake at the one going down the hill.

“We’ll probably try to do what we did last year. I’m delighted that he could win that first time out, and he’s making progress.

“I just wanted to get today out of the way first, and we’ll see where we go from here.”

Boylesports trimmed Djakadam to 8-1 from 12-1 for the Gold Cup after the outing.

Sunni May continued his progression with an authoritative success in the Ladies Free Admission On New Years Eve Rated Novice Hurdle.

Jessica Harrington’s five-year-old was a smart bumper performer and was sent off the 2-1 favourite to build on his hurdling debut success at Cork last month.

He was left in front when early leader Lion In His Heart jumped left and eventually ran out around halfway, and Robbie Power slipped the field on the bend before coming home five and a half lengths to the good over Kalopsia.

Harrington said: “He’d very good form last year, and is fulfilling it now. He’s going in the right direction and Robbie said he’d be better going left-handed.

“He’ll probably run at Christmas as they should have decent ground and he’s not certain to go on very heavy ground. Two miles is his trip, although he may in time get two and a half.”

Turcagua made all of the running to justify even-money favouritism in the Buy Your 2017 Annual Membership Maiden Hurdle.

Ruby Walsh dictated terms to suit himself on Willie Mullins's grey and did not have to engage top gear for his mount to stroll nine and a half lengths clear of Champagne Classic.

Mullins said: “The trip was no problem, and he can go further in trip. He’s a fine, big chaser for the future. A clear passage today was a big help.

“He may run over Christmas, but we’ll see how he comes out of it.”

The Rich Ricci-owned winner was introduced at 25-1 with Betfair and Paddy Power for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

Dawerann was a beaten favourite at Clonmel on Thursday but gained swift compensation in the Follow Us On Facebook And Twitter Handicap Hurdle.

Cian Collins sent the Gordon Elliott-trained 11-2 chance to the front between the final couple of obstacles and held off the staying-on Our Boy Boru by two and a quarter lengths.

Elliott said: “The trip was a bit short for him at Clonmel the last day and they didn’t go fast enough. The trip suited him much better today.

“Hopefully he can win another one. He has options, as he could go back on the Flat and could go chasing as well.”

American Tom completed a treble on the card for Mullins, Walsh and Ricci in the Alan Lillingston Memorial Beginners Chase.

Despite an absence stretching back to November last year, the lightly-raced five-year-old was a warm order at even-money and bowled along happily at the head of affairs.

Gangster made a real race of it at the final obstacle, but American Tom may just have been idling because he pulled away again to triumph by a length and a half.

Mullins said: “He hung a bit to his left, but he’s a very inexperienced racehorse and I hope it’s something that we can iron out.

“Hopefully it’s not something physical and only greenness. He might prefer to go left-handed, and we’ll find another novice for him.”