Timeform Punchestown Gold Cup Preview: Djak gives Mullins strong hand

The Punchestown Gold Cup is the feature race on day two of the Festival
The Punchestown Gold Cup is the feature race on day two of the Festival

Timeform preview Wednesday's Punchestown Gold Cup on day two of the Punchestown Festival and recommend a bet...

"A better jump at the second last would have helped his chance there, but he lost third through Native River's tenacity and stamina rather than anything else..."

After wins in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles in January and Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown a month later, Sizing John completed his hat-trick in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham last time by two and three-quarter lengths from Minella Rocco. He travelled well that day and once more confirmed his stamina for 3m+, and this most reliable of performers is very much the one to beat here for his local trainer. Jessica Harrington's horses are still in great form - both on the Flat and over jumps - and another win would be very well received by Punchestown racegoers.

DJAKADAM chased home Don Cossack in this race in 2015 and Carlingford Lough 12 months later, winning the John Durkan Memorial Chase back at this venue on his next start for two years in succession. Since the second of those wins, Djakadam has been third to Outlander in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown as well as a three and a quarter lengths fourth to Sizing John in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last time. A better jump at the second last would have helped his chance there but he lost third through Native River's tenacity and stamina rather than anything else. He's made the frame in all his Grade 1 chases when he's completed, and while he has won only the John Durkan twice, he looks the value here at around 3/1. Lexus winner Outlander was only 10th at Cheltenham, labouring from an early stage, but is better judged on his earlier efforts. Champagne West finished one place ahead of him at Cheltenham but shaped rather better than he had in the Ryanair 12 months earlier. He has won two of his four starts since joining Henry de Bromhead from Philip Hobbs and may still have more to offer.

The return of 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree adds plenty of intrigue to this race. He was unbeaten in four starts in 2014/15 and completed the five-timer in a listed event at Sandown on his only start in 2015/16. He was off for 13 months through injury before a 15 lengths second to Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November but had to miss a trip to Cheltenham last month after suffering a knee injury. He's clearly not been easy to train but is a very talented horse who will appreciate any rain at the track.

Flemenstar was off for a year before finishing third at Fairyhouse earlier this month, and is likely to find this too tough. He was a top-class chaser at his best, winning a Grade 1 at Leopardstown in December 2015, however he wasn't able to win again in three further starts that season and suffered an injury after. The now 12-year-old was sent off at 20/1 for his recent return to action and whilst he should strip fitter, even his best might not be good enough against the likes of Sizing John and Djakadam.

Recommendation:

Win back Djakadam in the Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday

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