Culloty hopeful Windermere can put in decent Durkan showing

Jim Culloty is looking forward to getting his Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere back on the course in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.

Culloty hopeful Windermere can put in decent Durkan showing

The eight-year-old is among nine horses standing their ground at the confirmation stage and while the trip might be on the short side, Culloty is looking for a decent show.

“The horse is fit and well and while two and a half miles is a slightly inadequate trip, we are hoping for a good run to kick off his campaign this season,” said the Mallow handler.

Noel Meade reports Texas Jack to be on course for the Grade One as long as he comes through his final piece of work in good shape.

“He’s in good form. He will do a bit of work later this week and if that goes OK he will run,” said the Co Meath trainer.

The eight-year-old was last seen finishing fourth to Last Instalment in Leopardstown’s Hennessy Gold Cup in February.

Willie Mullins looks like relying on Boston Bob after the Punchestown Gold Cup winner finished third to Road To Riches in the Champion Chase at Down Royal on his reappearance.

Mouse Morris’ First Lieutenant, runner up to Boston Bob at Punchestown, could renew rivalry. Morris also has Baily Green and Rathlin in the mix.

As well as First Lieutenant, owners Gigginstown House Stud have the Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack, winner at Punchestown and Down Royal on his two starts this term. Paddy Power make the in-form chaser 5-4 market leader to complete the hat-trick on the weekend.

The Tom Mullins-trained Alderwood and Robbie Hennessy’s Rubi Light complete the nine acceptors.

Last year’s winner Twinlight is the highest-rated contender among 12 entries for the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork on Sunday.

No match for Sizing Europe at the Punchestown Festival, he returned to action with a win in the Fortria Chase in fine style.

Champion trainer Willie Mullins has also entered Felix Yonger.

Another former winner of the race, Henry De Bromhead’s Days Hotel, is also in the mix.

Dual Cheltenham Festival winner Alderwood, the consistent Foildubh, 2013 Arkle runner-up Baily Green and Tim Doyle’s Mallowney are also engaged.

The supporting card is just as interesting with Gordon Elliott’s No More Heroes a possible for the Kerry Group Stayers Novice Hurdle.

A smart bumper horse, he won his maiden hurdle in effortless fashion at Punchestown.

He could face Mouse Morris’ promising Alpha Des Obeaux and Mullins’ Black Hercules.

Robert Tyner’s unbeaten Pulled Mussel is another interesting possible.

The Kerry Group Mares Novice Chase could see the next appearance of Mullins’ promising Vroum Vroum Mag.

Meanwhile, connections of The Tullow Tank are awaiting the results of tests which were carried out after he finished a well-beaten fifth in the Drinmore Novice Chase on Sunday.

A dual Grade One winner over hurdles for Philip Fenton, he was the late Dessie Hughes’ final winner on his debut over fences at the beginning of November.

Now in the care of Sandra Hughes, he was sent off favourite for one of the best renewals of the Drinmore for many years but he ran a lacklustre race.

Owner Barry Connell expects the picture to become clearer after the weekend. “Nothing has come to light yet but we haven’t had the results of his tests,” said Connell.

“No conclusion can be brought yet, but we expect something to show up when we get the results at the weekend.

“There was something wrong as he should have run better than that.”

Ruby Walsh felt the lack of experience in an ultra-competitive contest such as the Hennessy Gold Cup contributed to Djakadam’s downfall in the Newbury feature last Saturday.

The five-year-old was sent off 5-1 favourite for what was only his fourth run over fences. Though he briefly flattered, he eventually finished eighth behind Many Clouds.

Djakadam won a four-runner Grade Two novice chase at Leopardstown in January, but Walsh believes the Willie Mullins-trained gelding has not yet earned his place at the top table.

“I was a little bit disappointed initially and then when I thought about it, I wasn’t that disappointed,” Walsh told Racing UK.

“I’d just say he wasn’t battle-hardened enough. It was his first run of the season, he hasn’t got many miles on the clock.

“He travelled well, he jumped well. I thought going to the cross fence I had a great chance. He just got tired going into the straight and then started to run on again and then he missed the second last, but the race was over at that stage.

“I’m sure he’ll improve a lot for it.

“When you’re at that level of a race, you probably do need miles on the clock. As a five-year-old, he just wasn’t battle hard enough for it.

“I’ve not discussed it with Willie yet. He’s off a mark of 142, it will be hard to step him into a Grade One.

“He needs to show he’s better than that to warrant a place in a Grade One. I imagine Willie will find a race for him somewhere along the way. He’ll be a lot better for the run.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox