John Durkan Chase (Punchestown) Preview & Betting Tips – Sunday 11th December 2016

Last year’s winner, Djakadam, returns to Punchestown as the slight favourite for this interesting looking renewal of the Grade 1 John Durkan Chase.

The seven year old faces some serious competition from the likes of Sub Lieutenant and Black Hercules though, who make up a field of five runners. The two and a half mile contest has been won by some great Irish stayers in recent times such as Don Cossack who triumphed just two years ago.

Race Analysis

Djakadam may have won this race a year ago but he’s in for a very different test this time. The going in 2015 was heavy but this time, good to yielding is the prediction and the change in conditions could well have a big say in how this race shapes up.

As for the key trends in this race, one that stands out is that nine of the last 10 winners had previously been out once or twice that season and did not win following a long break. All of them also came into the race having at least managed one top three finish in a Grade 1 chase.

Although this race has sometimes had as few as three runners, the betting trends still look like being of some use. The longest priced winner in the last 10 years was 2006 winner In Compliance who rode home at 5/1. In this time, the favourite has won on seven occasions so it’s a good sign for Djakadam at least.

Betting Tips

With Djakadam (11/8, Betfred) not having ridden competitively since April he’ll be an exception to the rule if he can win this race on his seasonal debut. A second place finish in a Grade 1 here at Punchestown wasn’t a bad way to end the season but it did mark four winless performances in a row. There often seems to be somebody just better than the seven-year-old on the day and with him a slight risk of being a faller, he’s probably best avoided here.

Black Hercules (7/2, Sky Bet) is another who hasn’t featured yet this season but he did at least end last season on a high at Cheltenham when winning the JLT Novices' Chase. It’s a very fine race to win and it marked his third win in four appearances. The one blip in this record was a fall at Navan but heavy going certainly contributed to this. He’s a very well-priced option in this race but potential rustiness after a long break might just see him lose out.

Having had a run out before a competitive race like this, Sub Lieutenant (11/8 with Ladbrokes) may reap the rewards. The Gigginstown runner has started this season strongly too, with back to back victories including a Grade 2 at Down Royal last month. He appears to have progressed well during the summer months and is good value to carry on his winning streak here. He’s looked at ease running two miles and three furlongs this year and the slight extra distance will no doubt suit him just nicely.