Excitement among Mullins team
The view from connections ahead of Sunday's John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, as Djakadam bids to win the race again.
Djakadam, ridden by Ruby Walsh, jumps the last to win the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase 12 months ago.
Having already finished second in two Cheltenham Gold Cups, the view from inside the Djakadam camp is there is still more to come as he makes his seasonal reappearance in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.
Djakadam does not turn eight until New Year's Day, but is bidding for a second win in this Grade One contest to go with his big efforts at the last two Cheltenham Festivals.
Having failed to reel in Coneygree in 2015, it was Don Cossack who stayed on stronger in March, but there is hope his time may still come in the blue riband as The Fellow won it at the third time of asking in 1994.
"He's a fabulous horse and as he's still only seven going on eight we hope there's still a lot more to come from him," said Patrick Mullins, assistant trainer to his father, Willie.
"When he won this last year he beat Valseur Lido very easily and he's a very good horse in his own right, so you'd have to think a repeat performance would be good enough to win."
Ruby Walsh rides Djakadam in preference to going to Cork for the ride on Douvan, whom Mullins himself rode last Christmas.
"It must have been a very tricky decision for Ruby to miss the ride on Douvan, but it's not like he's in danger of missing the ride next time or anything like that. I don't think I was in the frame this time, though!" said Mullins.
The yard also field two other very worthy contenders in Alelchi Inois and Black Hercules.
Alelchi Inois was second in the Galway Plate and won the Clonmel Oil Chase last time out, albeit rather fortuitously.
"He had a fantastic summer and he has an exceptional strike-rate through his career," said Mullins.
"His rating entitles him to run in this, though this is a huge step up in class.
"He's won a Grade Two so it's logical to go for a Grade One next, but he will have to improve on what he's shown."
As for Black Hercules, he has not been seen since winning the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. A big run is anticipated.
"Black Hercules is a hugely exciting horse and it may be that two and a half miles is his optimum trip," said Mullins.
"This is obviously a step out of novice company and it is always a bit of an unknown when they do it for the first time.
"By running him here we should have a good idea of where we stand afterwards, but I expect him to be bang there."
He added: "Our two big guns are making there seasonal debut, whereas Outlander and Sub Lieutenant have had a couple of runs and ours normally improve for their first runs."
Sub Lieutenant has looked an improved performer since joining Henry de Bromhead and is the choice of Bryan Cooper, over Outlander.
"He seems in good form and I'm looking forward to seeing how he gets on there. It's a big step for our lad, so we'll see," said De Bromhead.
"The trip is good, he's won over that, and the ground at the moment sounds nice. He likes that goodish ground, although he has good form on all grounds and won a Grade Three last year on soft."
Gordon Elliott's Outlander, who appeared to have the Clonmel Oil sewn up when he tipped up at the last, completes the field.
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