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Classy Djakadam is Willie Mullins' ace in the pack

By Frank Brownlow

Clarcam is tipped for improvement in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown after having to settle for second place behind Paul Nicholls' Ptit Zig at the Down Royal Festival's big Powers Irish Whiskey Chase.

But champion trainer Willie Mullins holds all the aces in tomorrow's £80,000 Grade One showpiece in the form of Djakadam - Ruby Walsh riding - and Valseur Lido.

Bryan Cooper was in the saddle on Clarcam at Down Royal five weeks ago but on this occasion the top jockey has chosen Valseur Lido, both horses part of the Gigginstown set-up.

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," Mullins said.

Clarcam, from Gordon Elliott's Meath yard and with Davy Russell taking over in the saddle, 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."

Djakadam was a major disappointment on his seasonal reappearance in last year's Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, but he bounced back emphatically in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park to earn a shot at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The six-year-old finished second in the blue riband 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 last April.

"One or two of them will probably be rusty and I'm hoping he'll put up a show."

The Tingle Creek suffered another major blow when Nicky Henderson announced Simonsig would miss today's Sandown showpiece through injury.

Henderson said: "Simonsig is not running, he's lame."

Willie Mullins pulled out Un De Sceaux earlier in the week, describing the horse as "a little flat".

At Sandown yesterday, Antony won the Amlin Insurance Novices Limited Handicap Chase.

Trainer Gary Moore, whose son Jamie was riding, said: "He travelled and jumped well. He could not do it any better than he did to be quite honest."

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