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John Durkan Memorial Chase Tips: Battleoverdoyen to down Min

John Durkan Memorial Chase Tips: Battleoverdoyen should give the favourite Min plenty to think about on Sunday.
John Durkan Memorial Chase Tips: Battleoverdoyen should give the favourite Min plenty to think about on Sunday.

Steve Chambers previews Sunday's Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown, as Min bids for a third win in the race, but he will face some lively rivals in an enthralling renewal...

A stellar field of eight will line up for a mouth-watering John Durkan at Punchestown this weekend, and it will see the Willie Mullins-trained Min bid for a third consecutive victory in the Grade 1 showpiece, as he looks to hand his trainer a fifth win in the race in six years. A one and a half length winner of the 2018 running, the reigning Ryanair Chase hero retained his crown in 2019 with a two and a quarter length success, and the Rich Ricci-owned nine-year-old will bid for a memorable hat-trick of wins on Sunday.

Unsurprisingly, the Closutton class act heads the betting, as he makes his seasonal reappearance, but while he certainly sets the standard in the 2m 4f 40y event, he will face a host of exciting chasers, who will be looking to use this event as a springboard to bigger and better things later in the season. Last seen edging out Saint Calvados in last season's Ryanair Chase, Min was made to work hard for his first Cheltenham Festival success, but he showed his battling qualities to claim success, but he would arguably have to put in a more polished display to land Sunday's prize.

Downing the likes of A Plus Tard, Frodon and the aforementioned Saint Calvados in the Ryanair Chase, Min's form is strong, but this weekend he will face some potentially superior rivals, and while he has become a dominant figure at Punchestown (won 4 of 6 visits) he will face his toughest test to date in the John Durkan, and at relatively short odds, he could be worth taking on.

Gordon Elliott last claimed victory in this race in 2014 with subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack, and the Cullentra House stables handler will unleash a dual-pronged attack in the shape of Battleoverdoyen and Samcro, who both sit towards at the head of the betting. Unbeaten at Punchestown (2 wins from 2), Battleoverdoyen gained some valuable experience in the novice chasing ranks last season notching up a trio of wins, including a Grade 1 win at Punchestown, but he failed to claim Cheltenham Festival glory as he could only finish fourth in the RSA Chase.

However, he kicked off the new season with an authoritative victory in a Grade 2 event at Down Royal in October, where he beat stablemate Samcro in fine style, and if he can kick on from that success then he could be a real challenger here. Currently a 20/1 chance for the Ryanair Chase in March, Battleoverdoyen's price could contract significantly if he can beat Min on Sunday, and with stamina assured he may look to set a decent gallop from the outset, and put it up to Min, who may just wilt under the pressure.

Samcro was a horse that tasted Cheltenham Festival success last season, as he outbattled the Willie Mullins-trained duo of Melon and Faugheen in the Marsh Novices' Chase, but he failed to fire in the aforementioned Down Royal event and will need to improve immeasurably if he is to reverse the form with Battleoverdoyen, so he is one that can be dismissed.

Cheltenham Festival Tips

Melon will be aiming to reverse that festival form and is another shot fired by the Mullins gun, while Allaho and Tornado Flyer make it a four-strong attack for the Mullins team with Allaho looking the biggest danger to stablemate Min. The lightly-raced six-year-old has only run over fences under Rules three times, with the latter of those coming in the RSA Chase, where he finished third. Taking a liking to the chasing game, Allaho could shape into a top notch Grade 1 chaser this season, and he is 10/1 for the Ryanair Chase. However, he's also a 25/1 chance for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race he could be more suited to in March. Often seen competing over three miles, Allaho may just lack that bit of pace needed to win this event, and while he should put up a bold effort it could be that the John Durkan trip of two and a half miles may be on the short side, and he can be ignored for that reason.

Henry De Bromhead's Chris's Dream is a fascinating contender dropping back in trip as he was last seen being narrowly beaten in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal over three miles. Touched off by The Storyteller in that event, Chris's Dream showed his abilities at the highest level, and having recorded winning form over 2m 4f earlier in his career, the eight-year-old has to play a major role here. A comfortable winner of the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase in February over that 2m 4f trip, Chris's Dream may show his best form over that trip, so it's no surprise to see him sitting prominently in the betting. Adding significant depth to a red-hot renewal, Chris's Dream will need to build on that recent Down Royal outing, but he may just ultimately falter against some classier rivals.

Le Richebourg will complete the eight-strong field, and returns after a lengthy 673-day absence, but he was last seen winning the 2019 Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown, so is an intriguing contender. He will strip fitter for the outing on Sunday, but while he is best watched on Sunday, he could be one to watch in the second half of the season.

A sensational renewal will serve up a real treat on Sunday, but it's Battleoverdoyen that could be one of the Irish stars this season, and the Elliott-trained raider can down dual winner Min, who will fail in his bid for a third John Durkan crown.

Selection:

John Durkan Memorial Chase, Punchestown, Sunday 6th December - back Battleoverdoyen at 6/1

John Durkan Memorial Chase
Battleoverdoyen silk

Battleoverdoyen

lost
The Cheltenham Festival
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