The John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase. Grade One. 5yo+
Punchestown 11th December 2011
There were 8 horses left in the race after the forfeit stage on 6th Dec 2011. They are:
Cooldine (151) 11-10
Hasn’t quite scaled the heights that looked possible when he ran away with the 2009 RSA Chase but does still hold form at the highest level. He finished twelve lengths behind Joncol on his seasonal debut at Thurles. Thwarted by the same rival in the 2010 Irish Hennessy and ran into third behind Planet of Sound in the Guinness Gold Cup two months after that. No evidence to completely write him off just yet but this is a big ask. He obviously still shows enough in his work at home as like all apart from Trafford Lad and Golden Silver he holds an entry in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas.
Golden Silver (165) 11-10
Top class Grade One winning Chaser. Reportedly heads to The Hilly Way Chase at Cork on the same day instead of taking up this entry
Joncol (161) 11-10
Stands almost at 18 hands and has quite a following on both sides of the sea. Ran with credit all last season considering he was a very sick horse. Came right back to form with a Listed Chase win at Thurles last time out. Ideally needs heavy ground which he may well get at Punchestown (current going is soft to heavy with further rain forecast) Took this contest in 2009 and also won the Irish Hennessy in 2010. Considered good enough to have a chance in a Gold Cup by his trainer Paul Nolan and if there was a deluge in March my money would ride on this lad. You can be sure he will be in there fighting at the end.
Kempes (162) 11-10
Won the 2011 Irish Hennessy then pulled up in both the Cheltenham Gold Cup & the Guinness Gold Cup. Reappeared over hurdles at Cork in November finishing third behind New Phase. He is dual Grade One winner over fences and acts on any ground. Looks to hold place claims here.
Roi Du Mee (148) 11-10
Beat Forpadydeplasterer by sixteen lengths in a Grade Three at Punchestown over 2m7f in October, then came second to the impressive Kauto Stone in the Grade Two Ladbroke.com Chase at Down Royal in November. He has a bit to find with the principals but open to any amount of improvement at only six years old and he did win the Grade Two Nas Na Riogh Chase at Naas in February.
Rubi Light (164) 11-10
Another six year old and potentially very exciting. Would have beaten Champion two mile Chaser Sizing Europe at Gowran Park on their seasonal reappearances but took a heavy fall at the last then was remounted to finish third. Has been suffering from a virus ever since which ruled him out of Down Royal and Haydock. Finished third in last year’s Ryanair on going that was not ideal for him. Had previously sluiced up in a Grade Two at Gowran Park in heavy going. If he is back to health he is the most likely winner. Underfoot conditions should be perfect for him.
Trafford Lad (145) 11-10
Was a very smart Novice Hurdler and Chaser (Won the Drinmore in 2008) before injury intervened in the 09/10 season. Sadly he hasn’t been the same horse since he returned. It would be wonderful to see him return to his former self but realistically looks up against it here.
Tranquil Sea (160) 11-10
Winner of the race last year when it was held at Fairyhouse & also took the 2009 Paddy Power at Cheltenham. Like both Rubi Light and Joncol he needs it hock deep. He won the Clonmel Oil Chase for the second season in a row last time out. Will be there at the end, no question.
Verdict: My heart screams Joncol but my head tells me Rubi Light. Whichever of these pair come out on top you can bet Tranquil Sea will be thereabouts too.
Twitter username – @cathrynfry
Cathryn is also a regular contributor on the excellent JPFestival.com