Djakadam strikes in Durkan again
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' 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.
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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."
Sky Bet trimmed Djakadam to 8-1 from 10-1 for the Gold Cup, with the same firm going 7-2 from 5-1 for the Lexus Chase.
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