Djakadam now one to avoid

I don’t think it is any great exaggeration to describe Willie Mullins’ Djakadam as having developed into something of a professional loser.

Djakadam now one to avoid

Perhaps, he is still viewed in some quarters as a possible Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, but he has failed far too often on the big day for my liking to be now regarded as a serious player.

Punters are normally an unforgiving lot, but when it comes to Djakadam many seem to have a real blind spot.

That, of course, has much to do with the fact he is in Mullins’ care and the reasoning, seemingly, is that it is only a matter of time before Djakadam gets it right.

But punters’ patience has to be wearing thin at this stage and, you suspect, even Mullins himself will now surely start to look elsewhere for a breakthrough success in the Gold Cup.

At Punchestown last Sunday, in the John Durkan Memorial Chase, Djakadam again failed to deliver. On this occasion, however, there was no fight in him at all and it was a particularly tame effort.

One more time punters were out in force and was there a so called wide-boy who didn’t want to be with him?

He was hammered in the market and went off the 5-4 favourite to beat Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John (2-1).

All logic told you the betting made no sense at all. The pair clashed in the Gold Cup in March, with Djakadam the 3-1 favourite.

The market leader travelled like a steam engine throughout and turned for home looking all over a winner. But then he made a little mistake at the second last and quickly faded into fourth.

In the meantime, Sizing John was only hitting top gear and he roared up the hill to score going away by two and three parts of a length.

They renewed rivalry then at the Punchestown festival in April and Sizing John was all out to nail his rival on the line and win by a short head. Too much shouldn’t be read into that, though, because it was the end of a long campaign and Sizing John arrived on the back of hard races at Cheltenham and when landing the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown previously.

The other fact worth noting was that Sizing John is a year younger than Djakadam and so had far more scope for improvement. There were seven lengths between them on Sunday and you cannot argue with that.

Heading into the John Durkan the handicapper had Sizing John just one pound ahead of Djakadam, but revised the difference this week.

Sizing John has gone up by two pounds, to a career high of 170, while Djakadam was dropped by a pound.

In the light of Djakadam’s dismal failure, it was more than interesting this week to hear Mullins indicate that the somewhat enigmatic, but hugely talented, Yorkhill is set to step up to three miles for the first time in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase, formerly the Lexus, on December 28.

The mighty Martin Pipe never won a Gold Cup and neither has Mullins. The clock is ticking for Mullins and the whole Irish racing community is waiting to see him finally rewarded.

But Cheltenham Gold Cups are hard to come by and it is a long way removed from being any sort of certainty that he will someday get over the line.

It is the only blot on a magnificent Mullins CV and the time has surely come to throw Kate and the kitchen at the greatest National Hunt prize of all.

TWO jockeys in particular emerged from last weekend’s racing with real credit, David Mullins and Sean Flanagan.

Mullins was quite superb aboard Un De Sceaux in the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase at Cork on Sunday. Despite the fact the irrepressible nine-year-old represented good value in the betting market, I could not bring myself to have a euro on him. The reason was simple, the absence in the plate of Ruby Walsh.

We know Un De Sceaux has an unbelievable engine, especially on heavy grond, but is not an easy horse to ride.

Remember the Ryanair at Cheltenham in March when Walsh tried to restrain him somewhat. Well, Un De Sceaux was having none of it and came tanking up the straight with a circuit to go and was soon in front. What followed, of course, was a masterclass from Walsh and Un De Sceaux won well enough in the end.

The overwhelming feeling was that Walsh has proved vital to this horse, not just at Cheltenham, but on other days also.

Mullins then had massive boots to fill, but this very classy horseman was more than equal to the task.

Sean Flanagan partnered the first two winners at Cork, Vision D’ete and Athenean, and was brilliant on both, showing how to ride when conditions are as bad as they were.

Flanagan was following a legend in Paul Carberry when getting the Noel Meade job and has made some fist of it.

It was almost as difficult as replacing Fergie at Manchester United and we know how hard that has been, even for the boring Mourinho.

ANOTHER Mullins failure last weekend was Acapella Bourgeois, who went off a crazy 4-7 shot to beat eight rivals in a handicap chase at Navan on Saturday.

Again wearing a hood - he wore it when trained by Sandra Hughes - he shaped as coming with a health warning, proving less than enthusiastic in finishing nine lengths second behind stable companion, Polidam.

That winner, though, seems one to keep on the right side. The handicapper has now raised him by nine pounds and that looks fair enough.

Two other Mullins success stories, at Punchestown on Sunday, that we will want on our side are Getabird and Hollowgraphic.

Getabird was a useful enough bumper horse, although to my eyes he hadn’t beaten much, but was most impressive in taking a maiden hurdle.

All the talk about Hollowgraphic in the bumper, a big eye-catcher at Punchestown on his debut in April, was that only the testing ground could beat him.

Well, he floated over the surface to score in a canter, certainly looking rather a high-class horse in the making.

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