Willie Mullins targets John Durkan double raid with Djakadam and Valseur Lido
Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Djakadam and Grade One-winning novice Valseur Lido form a formidable twin assault for Willie Mullins on the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on Sunday.
Djakadam was a major disappointment on his seasonal reappearance in last year's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, but bounced back emphatically in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park to earn a shot at the blue riband.
The six-year-old finished second in the Gold Cup before finding the formidable Don Cossack too strong in the Punchestown Gold Cup in late April and makes his first start since then in the Grade One over two and a half miles.
Mullins said: "Djakadam ran a cracker here (Punchestown) last April. One or two of them will probably be rusty and I'm hoping he'll put up a show."
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned Valseur Lido won three of his five starts over fences last season, including Grade Ones at Fairyhouse and Punchestown.
"I'm very pleased with how both of them are. It's probably a little short for both of them," the County Carlow handler told www.wpmullins.com.
Gigginstown's retained rider Bryan Cooper has sided with Valseur Lido over the race-fit Clarcam from Gordon Elliott's yard, who has already been beaten twice this season.
Gigginstown's stud manager Eddie O'Leary said: "Hopefully he (Valseur Lido) will run well. He's in good form. The trip is a bit on the short side for him, but we'll see how he goes. I think Clarcam will improve now we're putting the cheekpieces on him."
Hidden Cyclone arrives in excellent form after an impressive victory in the Fortria Chase at Navan a month ago, but trainer Shark Hanlon is concerned the two-and-a-half-mile distance could stretch him in what will be testing conditions.
Hanlon said: "He's in great form and has a run under his belt, which hopefully gives him an advantage over one or two of the others.
"The only worry is the ground is going to be heavy. If it was two miles, I'd be delighted, but over two and a half, I just hope they don't catch him.
"It's a very good race. Willie has two very good horses in it, they are both stayers and with the ground it might ride more like a three-mile race, which will suit them better than us. I'm very happy with our horse, though. He was very good in Navan and ran a blinder in the Galway Hurdle before that, so he goes there in great shape."
The JP McManus-owned Gilgamboa signed off an excellent first season over fences with a Grade One victory in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in April.
Trainer Enda Bolger said: "Everything is good with the horse and he's ready to run, but having been off the track for a while, he will just take (need) it.
"It'll be nice, soft ground, which will suit him. It's a very hot race, but we have to start somewhere and there aren't too many options for a horse like him. We're just hoping for a nice run. A clear round and coming home safe and sound will do me."