Min, Samcro, Allaho and Chris's Dream set to clash in John Durkan epic on Sunday
Leading chaser Min seeks a hat-trick in the John Durkan Memorial Chase (1.40) at Punchestown on Sunday but faces his stiffest task with Samcro, Allaho and Chris's Dream featuring in a fantastic edition of the race.
The Willie Mullins-trained Min, who is the mount of Patrick Mullins, ended last season with victory in the Ryanair Chase – his first Cheltenham Festival success – and has won this race on his reappearance for the last two years.
Official ratings suggest he deserves to be favourite but there is top-class opposition in abundance.
Lightly raced stablemate Allaho similarly returns to action and was a close third behind Champ in the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase in March. He is ridden by David Mullins, with the Closutton trainer, who has won this race five times in the last seven years, also saddling Melon (Brian Hayes) and Tornado Flyer (Bryan Cooper).
Chris's Dream, trained by Henry de Bromhead, has the benefit of a recent run having finished a neck second to The Storyteller in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal at the end of October.
Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud are represented by Grade 1 winners in Samcro, who defied many naysayers when winning the Marsh Novices' Chase last season, and Battleoverdoyen, who won a recent Grade 2 chase at Down Royal in which Samcro finished third.
The classy Le Richebourg, a dual top-level novice chase winner, completes the eight-runner field on his first start in 673 days for Joseph O’Brien.
Sunday's racing also includes the seasonal return of top two-mile chaser Chacun Pour Soi (1.25), ridden by Paul Townend, in the seven-runner Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork.
John Durkan runners and riders
Allaho David Mullins
Battleoverdoyen Rachael Blackmore
Chris's Dream Robbie Power
Le Richebourg Mark Walsh
Melon Brian Hayes
Min Patrick Mullins
Samcro Jack Kennedy
Tornado Flyer Bryan Cooper
BoyleSports betting: 15-8 Min, 3 Chris's Dream, 7-2 Allaho, Battleoverdoyen, 5 Samcro, 10 Melon, 20 Le Richebourg, Tornado Flyer
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