Tag Archive for: john durkan

Allaho makes all to take Durkan honours on seasonal bow

Allaho led home a one-two-three for Willie Mullins in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

A brilliant winner of last season’s Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Allaho was a 7-2 shot to make a successful reappearance in a race in which the champion trainer saddled seven of the 10 runners.

Sent straight to the lead by the trainer’s son Patrick Mullins, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned seven-year-old jumped well in the main to keep his rivals at bay.

Another Mullins inmate, Asterion Forlonge, looked set to mount a bold challenge as he was travelling well before unshipping his rider three fences from home.

Janidil then emerged as the biggest threat from the home turn, but despite tiring, Allaho dug deep to see off his stablemate’s challenge by two lengths.

Perennial bridesmaid Melon was best of the rest of third, with 7-4 favourite Envoi Allen ultimately disappointing in sixth.

Allaho strides on for Patrick Mullins
Allaho strides on for Patrick Mullins (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mullins said of the winner: “I was delighted how he fought back. When Asterion Forlonge came up alongside him I thought that would take the stuffing out of him. Each challenger that came, he kept pulling it out.

“He raced very lazily today which is not like him and he was going a bit to his left which is not like him, so we will have to look at all that for the future.”

Allaho was winning on his seasonal bow for the first time and Mullins expects all of his runners to come on for the outing, with the winner’s class proving crucial.

He added: “Our horses are not fully wound up yet and I was hoping his ability would pull him through. Taking on horses with a run under their belt can be very tough.

“I was very happy with the way they all performed and hoping they will all improve from that.”

Bryan Cooper pays tribute after tragic loss of Latest Exhibition

Bryan Cooper has issued a heartfelt tribute to Latest Exhibition in the wake of the fatal injury suffered by Paul Nolan’s stable star at Fairyhouse last weekend.

Cooper partnered the eight-year-old on nine of his 13 career starts, including a Grade One victory at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

Latest Exhibition went on to be beaten a neck by Monkfish in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and was runner-up to the same horse in two Grade One novice chases last term.

Latest Exhibition (left) in action against Monkfish at Leopardstown
Latest Exhibition (left) in action against Monkfish at Leopardstown (PA)

Nolan’s charge reverted to the smaller obstacles for the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, but it proved to be his final outing.

Cooper said: “Latest Exhibition came along at a very important time in my career. He really helped me to get back on the big stage.

“It was sickening what happened to him and we’ll miss him. They’re horses of a lifetime and you don’t come across them every week.”

Cooper has been in demand from a number of Ireland’s leading stables this season, riding regularly for Gordon Elliott, Noel Meade and Willie Mullins among others.

This weekend the jockey will be on board the Mullins-trained Asterion Forlonge in Sunday’s John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, a horse he steered to an impressive course and distance victory in April.

“Asterion Forlonge is a high-class horse who’s held in high regard in Closutton,” Cooper added.

“He didn’t have the rub of the green earlier on in the season last year, but things finished off on a high note and he couldn’t have been any more impressive.

Asterion Forlonge and Bryan Cooper in winning action at Punchestown
Asterion Forlonge and Bryan Cooper in winning action at Punchestown (Brian Lawless/PA)

“He’s back into Grade One company now and I’m looking forward to him – he’s an exciting ride.

“I’m trying to keep everybody happy and so grateful to be getting opportunities from everyone – from Gordon, Willie, the Nolans, Noel Meade, everyone. It’s a great position to be in.

“It’s great to be getting the opportunities but you have to be seen to be making the most of them as well, so you just keep working hard but it would be very special to win on John Durkan day at Punchestown, better again if we could win the big one.”

Bryony Frost booked for Franco De Port by Willie Mullins in John Durkan

Bryony Frost will have a ride for Willie Mullins on Sunday as the champion trainer prepares a seven-strong team for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

Mullins has saddled a joint-record seven previous winners of the Grade One contest and appears intent on adding to his tally this weekend.

Allaho, so brilliant when winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, appears the Mullins first string, with the trainer’s son Patrick coming in for the ride.

Frost takes the mount on Franco De Port, whose high-class novice form includes a Grade One win at Leopardstown last Christmas.

Franco De Port will be ridden by Bryony Frost on Sunday
Franco De Port will be ridden by Bryony Frost on Sunday (PA)

Bryan Cooper steered Asterion Forlonge to victory over the course and distance in April and is once again on board him, while Danny Mullins partners Kemboy, as he did to win last season’s Irish Gold Cup.

Janidil, Melon and last year’s John Durkan runner-up Tornado Flyer complete the Closutton squad.

Allaho is one of two leading hopes for Cheveley Park Stud along with Envoi Allen, who is the likely favourite for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore.

The seven-year-old, who put a Cheltenham fall and an injury suffered at Punchestown behind him with an impressive return at Down Royal, is joined by Grand National-winning stablemate Minella Times, the mount of leading amateur Derek O’Connor.

A quality field is completed by Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies, who like Envoi Allen has the benefit of a recent run having made a successful reappearance in last month’s Clonmel Oil Chase.

The likely star of the show on the undercard is the Mullins-trained and Cheveley Park-owned Ferny Hollow, who makes his long-awaited return – and fencing debut – in the beginners’ chase.

The 2020 Champion Bumper winner has been off the track since beating top-class novice Bob Olinger in a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park in November of last year.

Mullins has strong hand in John Durkan Memorial

Willie Mullins is responsible for nine of the 17 remaining entries for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on Sunday.

The champion trainer has saddled a joint-record seven previous winners of the Grade One contest, with the now-retired Min completing a hat-trick in the last three renewals.

His most likely contender for this time around appears to be Allaho, who was a brilliant winner of last season’s Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The seven-year-old is also entered in Saturday’s Betfair Tingle Creek Chase, but Mullins is expected to split his aces and send Chacun Pour Soi across the Irish Sea for the Sandown feature.

Chacun Pour Soi has also been left in the John Durkan, as has dual Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo, who has the alternative option of running at Aintree on Saturday in the Many Clouds Chase.

Speaking about the possibility of Al Boum Photo running at Punchestown, Patrick Mullins – assistant to his father – said: “It would be a trip short of his best, but options are limited for him and it’ll be a step towards getting him hard-fit for March

“With him being a little bit older he will probably need more races and more work to get his pipes open.”

Of Allaho, he added: “This race would look made for him. He does have an average record first time out.

“Last year in the fog (in the John Durkan), he didn’t seem to operate at all, but it’s the perfect starting place for him. His form does suggest he gets better as the season goes on.

“I think Willie hasn’t ruled out coming back to two miles again. He wasn’t disgraced against Chacun Pour Soi at Punchestown and he’s also entered in the King George.

“For two-and-a-half-mile horses, there aren’t as many top races for them as the other races so he might have to chop and change a bit but he’s well able to do that.”

Asterion Forlonge, Franco De Port, Janidil, Kemboy, Melon and Tornado Flyer complete the Mullins squad.

Henry de Bromhead also retains a strong hand, with Envoi Allen – who like Allaho is owned by Cheveley Park Stud – joined by Grand National-winning stablemate Minella Times as well as Notebook.

Envoi Allen is set to contest the John Durkan
Envoi Allen is set to contest the John Durkan (PA)

“Envoi Allen seems in great form, really good. He’s fit and well,” De Bromhead told Punchestown.com

“He’d been working really well before he won at Down Royal and we were delighted with him on the day. Everything has been good since then, too.

“We know he has plenty of pace. He’s obviously got very good form over two and a half so we’ll go to Punchestown and see how he gets on and we can work on from there.

“The racing in Ireland is so competitive and the John Durkan Chase looks like it could be very strong this year, but it’s great to have something to compete in these kinds of races.”

Gordon Elliott has confirmed Battleoverdoyen, Hardline and Samcro, while Joseph O’Brien could saddle recent Clonmel Oil Chase victor Fakir D’oudairies.

Ellmarie Holden’s Ex Patriot is the other hopeful.

On the same afternoon the Grade Two Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase takes place at Cork.

Mullins also has Chacun Pour Soi and Allaho in that two-mile contest, as well as Cash Back and Energumene, who enjoyed a faultless novice campaign over fences last term.

Patrick Mullins said of the latter: “For Energumene stepping out of novice company, the Hilly Way would look an easier stepping stone. It’s an ideal race for a horse starting off out of novice company. We’re very happy with him at home.”

He added of the Cork back-up for Chacun Pour Soi: “The Hilly Way has been a good prep race for him before, so we know he enjoys it in Cork and so it would be a good place for him to start again if he weren’t to go to Sandown. He’s ready to rock now.

“I’d say in Cheltenham we just got our tactics wrong. We didn’t make use of his cruising speed and jumping. He was pretty faultless other than that.”