John Durkan Memorial Chase Date is Sunday, 6 December 2021 (2:10)

Racecourse: Punchestown

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Type: Grade 1 National Hunt Steeplechase

Age Of The Horses: 5 Years Old And Up

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Distance: 2 Miles, 4 Furlongs And 40 Yards

2019 Winner: Min

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Page Contents

General Race Info

Runners & Tips

Offers & Promotions

Stats & Trends

Past Winners

John Durkan Memorial Chase General Info

Run this time on Sunday December 6th, the John Durkan Chase 2020 will take place at Punchestown over 2½ miles. There are fourteen fences to jump for these Grade 1 types and with over €50,000 going to the winner, the race once again will prove to be an important event not just in the Irish jumps calendar but also in regards to Cheltenham Festival 2021 prep.

Don Cossack, the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, as well as 2005 scorer Kicking King each managed to win this race en route to Blue Riband victory around Prestbury Park.

John Durkan Chase Runners & Tips

Initial early closing entries for the 2020 John Durkan Chase at Punchestown have been reduced from 23 to a field of 11 possible runners at the penultimate declaration stage. Top Irish National Hunt trainers such as Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott have strong representation among those who remain in contention for the race. Here is the list of John Durkan Chase runners for this year:

  1. Allaho (Willie Mullins, IRE)*
  2. Battleoverdoyen (Gordon Elliott, IRE)
  3. Chacun Pour Soi (Willie Mullins, IRE)*
  4. Chris’s Dream (Henry De Bromhead, IRE)
  5. Le Richebourg (Joseph O’Brien, IRE)*
  6. Melon (Willie Mullins, IRE)*
  7. Min (Wille Mullins, IRE)
  8. Mortal (Joseph O’Brien, IRE)
  9. Samcro (Gordon Elliott, IRE)
  10. Tornado Flyer (Wille Mullins, IRE)
  11. Tout Est Permis (Noel Meade, IRE)

*Holds an entry in the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase at Cork on the same day

2020 John Durkan Chase Tips

Min (7/4)

One of eight two-time John Durkan Chase past winners, Min landed the race in consecutive seasons on reappearance and should be back to launch his hat-trick bid. That would be a piece of Punchestown history. Both trainer Willie Mullins and his owners, Rich and Susannah Ricci, have fabulous recent records in the race too. This trip is definitely Min’s best too, having bumped heads with Altior over two miles for much of his earlier career. He went on from retaining his John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase crown to gain a deserved Cheltenham Festival success in the Ryanair Chase in March when last in action.

With just one career defeat over two-and-a-half miles, Min commands respect here. The only thing that might stop him is father time. Now a nine-year-old, it has been 18 years since a horse of that age has won the John Durkan Memorial Chase, but the same stable sent out Florida Pearl to glory in 2001 at that point in his career. Min won’t be the only iron in the fire for his connections either, so it will be interesting to see which other Mullins mounts and potential John Durkan Chase runners will take aim at this event. Against some younger rivals this year, Min may need to jump better than he did when retaining his crown 12 months ago, but remains the horse to beat over this course and distance.

Samcro (5/1)

Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud won the John Durkan in 2014 with the mighty Don Cossack, and Samcro has had the same big reputation in his career. Much like his erstwhile stable companion, things haven’t been always been straightforward. What isn’t in doubt is Samcro is a supremely talented horse on his day. A dual Cheltenham Festival winner, the eight-year-old topped and tailed last season – his novice chase campaign – with victories. Despite falling in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse and being bested by veteran Faugheen at Limerick over Christmas, he saved his best for the Marsh. Samcro reversed form with that rival and just prevailed in a photo finish over Melon.

Although beaten on his reappearance in a Grade 2 at Down Royal, he shaped as though needing the run when fading close home to be third. Samcro could well come on for that run, with Elliott hinting that he is training the horse for the Ryanair Chase this season. Connections would like nothing better than to end Mullins’ recent dominance of the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown. Samcro has the same official rating as Battleoverdoyen, his Down Royal conqueror, but it may be wiser not to judge them on that meeting. After just five chase starts, there is definitely more to come from him on over fences. Samcro’s price reflects that here, however.

Chris’s Dream (7/1)

Irish trainer Henry De Bromhead is yet to win the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, but Chris’s Dream could well have a say in the finish dropping back in trip. Unlike others entered in the race, this eight-year-old doesn’t hold any other engagements. That suggests De Bromhead is giving every consideration to turning up here. Other possible John Durkan Chase runners may find the trip too far, but Chris’s Dream gets three miles no problem and this race has often been won by horses that get further. On official ratings, he is the third best horse entered here off a mark of 164.

Although not seeing out the Cheltenham Gold Cup trip at the end of last season, it was a fruitful campaign for Chris’s Dream where he made real progress. Victory in the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan and the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park either side of a Christmas break hinted at his ability and demonstrated improvement. Chris’s Dream was also unlucky in the Down Royal Champion Chase on reappearance when headed close home and going down fighting by a neck to The Storyteller. He was conceding race fitness to that rival on the day and could well come on for his return to action. A strongly run race and softer surface that brings his stamina into play will suit Chris’s Dream.

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John Durkan Memorial Chase Stats & Trends

Ahead of the 2020 John Durkan Chase, it is well worth knowing certain statistics and prevailing trends about this event. There are no guarantees that these will provide you with the winner, but you are more likely to make an informed decision by being aware of them before you start betting. Here are the key stats for the John Durkan ahead of this year’s race:

  • Most successful horses – As noted above, there have been eight multiple John Durkan Chase past winners with each landing the race twice. Straight Fort (1971 and 1972), Fort Fox (1976 and 1977), Jack Of Trumps (1978 and 1979), Bobsline (1984 and 1986), Merry Gale (1994 and 1995), Native Upmanship (2000 and 2002), Djakadam (2015 and 2016), and Min (2018 and 2019).
  • Most successful jockeys – The great Ruby Walsh rode four John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase winners a record four times between 2013 and 2018 before retiring. Of still active riders, Paul Townend joined Robbie Power and Daryl Jacob in partnering the successful horse to victory.
  • Most successful trainers – Jim Dreaper saddled a record seven winners of the John Durkan Memorial Chase with five different horses. Of active trainers, Willie Mullins has six successes with four different horses, including Florida Pearl, Djakadam and Min. Other top stables to have won the race in recent years include Gordon Elliott, Jessica Harrington, and British handler Paul Nicholls.
  • Age – Five John Durkan Chase past winners since 2012 have been seven-year-olds. That is the most recent trend, but there have also been three eight-year-olds to land the spoils over the last decade. In fact, every horse to win from 2002 onwards was between the age of six and eight. That is the clear profile for the John Durkan and, unless there is an exceptional older horse, you should focus your search for the winner in that bracket.
  • Favourites – The market leader has a fantastic record in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in recent times. Nine of the last 12 favourites (or joint-favourites) have obliged and a 75 per cent success rate is well above average for a horse race.
  • Ratings – It takes a top-class horse to win this. Six of the last eight winners had an official rating of 167 or above. Only four horses among the early closing entries and potential John Durkan Chase runners this year meet that requirement. Of those, only one – Min – is likely to go to Punchestown after winning the race in both of the last two years.

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2019 John Durkan Memorial Chase Result

What Happened in 2019?

Min made a successful defence of the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase from the front, giving trainer Willie Mullins a sixth win in the race. Sent off the odds-on 8/11 favourite under stable jockey Paul Townend, the Rich and Susannah Ricci owned gelding was very keen on his way to post and didn’t always have his mind on the job with his jumping a little sticky. Despite skying a couple of fences, Min showed a likeable attitude to rally on the far side when headed by 25/1 outsider Hardline approaching the last and retake the lead. He settled things on the run-in, pulling 2¼ lengths clear of Keith Donoghue’s mount in the second Gigginstown House Stud colours for Gordon Elliott.

Presenting Percy, the 2018 RSA Chase hero, was beaten a further length in third and the slight drift in the market out to 10/1 perhaps reflected that Pat Kelly’s horse needed a longer trip than this under Davy Russell. One of the 11/2 joint second favourites, Real Steel, was close up in fourth but the gamble of the race, Shattered Love, didn’t fire. A bad mistake at the third last cost Elliott and Gigginstown’s first string as the mare faded to be only seventh. Shattered Love finished behind a couple of 25/1 outsiders in Voix Du Reve and Noel Meade’s Snow Falcon. Duc Des Genievres, the 2019 Arkle winner, also ran below market expectation (11/1) back in eighth ahead of Anibale Fly.

Past John Durkan Memorial Chase Winners

Some top names have taken this event in the past, here are all of the winners since 2010 along with how they did at the following Cheltenham Festival.

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer Festival Performance
2019 Min 8 Paul Townend Willie Mullins Won Ryanair Chase
2018 Min 7 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 5th in Champion Chase
2017 Sizing John 7 Robbie Power Jessica Harrington Did not race
2016 Djakadam 7 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 4th in Gold Cup
2015 Djakadam 6 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 2nd in Gold Cup
2014 Don Cossack 7 Brian O’Connell Gordon Elliott 3rd in Ryanair Chase
2013 Arvika Ligeonniere 8 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins Pulled-up in Champion Chase
2012 Flemenstar 7 Andrew Lynch Peter Casey Did not race
2011 Rubi Light 6 Andrew Lynch Robert Hennessey 5th in Ryanair Chase
2010 Tranquil Sea 8 Andrew McNamara Edward O’Grady Did not race

About the Author

 Jamie Clark

Jamie Clark

Jamie Clark has been around horse racing and betting his entire life. His father and godfather ran a trackside bookmaker's pitch at Market Rasen Racecourse in Lincolnshire for many years. Jamie was Sports Editor for Coral's digital platforms between 2014 and 2017, and has since become a successful freelancer.