The 2018 John Durkan Chase betting tips from Horsebetting.com say Min looks a worthy favourite for the 2m 4f Grade 1 feature race at Punchestown on Sunday, 9 December. Gordon Elliott trained duo Shattered Love and The Storyteller are preferred as the main danger and each-way alternative to Willie Mullins’ runner instead of Ryanair Chase hero Balko Des Flos, who has been below par on his last two starts. Read further details below in our detailed 2018 John Durkan Chase betting tips preview.Min can win John Durkan for MullinsCounty Carlow handler Willie Mullins has landed three of the last five runnings of the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown, and the Irish champion trainer saddles a leading contender in this year’s renewal on Sunday courtesy of Min (14:00). The seven-year-old is one of four in the race that fits the age profile of recent winners as a young, still improving chaser.
Owner Rich Ricci scooped first prize in this valuable 2m 4f Grade 1 event in 2016 and 2017 with Djakadam. In Min, connections have a gelding with a 50 per cent strike rate over fences, who had never finished outside the first two in eight career chase starts until last time out.
After just three hurdles outings for Mullins, including a solid seven-length second to Altior in the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, Min was sent chasing. He bolted up by 10 lengths on his bow over the large obstacles and then grabbed a first Grade 1 success in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown in December 2016.
A setback ended his novice season there, but Min looked as good as ever when sluicing up by 36 lengths on return to action at Gowran Park last November. He then passed the post first in another Grade 1 at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, but was adjudged to have hampered Simply Ned on the run-in and relegated to second in the stewards’ room.
Sweet revenge on Simply Ned
Min confirmed his superiority over the plucky veteran, however, when they met again in the Grade 2 Dublin Chase at the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival in February. He was driven clear up the run-in and stayed on strongly for a 12-length victory.
Although then beaten seven lengths again by Altior in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, that does not tell the whole story as Min was hampered by stablemate Douvan taking a tumble four out. He was outpaced in the final 120 yards by the winner, who is the undisputed best in the 2m division.
In Altior’s absence, Min was sent off a hot favourite for the Melling Chase when stepped up to the 2m 4f of this for only the second time. He led narrowly after three out and was ridden approaching the last only for Politologue to collar him on the run-in and just hold him by a neck.
Connections then dropped him back in trip and turned Min out just 11 days later in the Punchestown Champion Chase. The run looked to come too soon, however, as he was a below par 15 1/2 lengths fourth to stable companion Un De Sceaux.
Forecast conditions sure to suit
Although this race has favoured those bound for a Cheltenham Gold Cup tilt, the ground is not forecast to be desperate but yielding at worst. That means the trip is not going to take a lot of getting and Min’s emphasis on speed thus stands him in good stead over some of the staying types in opposition.
Based on his last try at this distance, a mark of 167 is not beyond him and Ruby Walsh, who partnered Min to his sole Grade 1 success over hurdles, is back in the saddle. With his jockey on a 25 per cent strike rating in the last fortnight at the time of writing, he appeals most to give Mullins yet another winner of this and Min thus heads our 2018 John Durkan Chase betting tips. Shattered Love feared most on JLT runLeading owners Gigginstown House Stud and trainer Gordon Elliott are both double-handed in their bid to win this again, having teamed up with the mighty Don Cossack in 2014. With Ireland’s leading Gold Cup contender Presenting Percy swerving the better ground and sharper trip, it’s the mare Shattered Love who is feared most on her victory in the JLT Novices’ Chase.
The seven-year-old has the most to find on ratings, but benefits from a 7lb sex allowance from the geldings. Shattered Love was a point and Grade 3 hurdle winner but really came into her own when sent novice chasing last term bolting up by 26 lengths on her debut over fences at Fairyhouse.
After comfortably following-up at Clonmel, this daughter of Yeats stepped outside her own sex and was a rallying three-quarters of a length second to Jury Duty in the Grade 2 Florida Pearl over an extended 2m 6f here. Shattered Love was then eased in grade and readily beat her fellow mares at Cork before heading to Leopardstown.
A rematch with Jury Duty over 3m saw the Punchestown places reversed as she stayed on well in the closing stages for a 1 3/4 lengths success. Connections then saved Shattered Love for the JLT at the Cheltenham Festival, where she mounted her challenge turning for home and led soon after two out.
JLT form looks strong
All Jack Kennedy needed to do then was ride her out up the Cheltenham hill to slam Terrefort by seven lengths. Both the runner-up and fifth home, the ill-fated Finian’s Oscar went on record Grade 1 successes of their own next time up at the Aintree Grand National meeting, so this is strong form for Shattered Love.
She was then a keeping on length runner-up to Al Boum Photo in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse, and perhaps had one run too many when beaten eight lengths into fifth by the re-opposing The Storyteller stepping back up 3m at the Punchestown Festival. Shattered Love reversed that form, however, on her return to action in a Grade 2 at Down Royal when only finding previous Kerry National hero Snow Falcon 1 1/2 lengths too good.
Gigginstown have the top rated Balko Des Flos also engaged, but he hasn’t repeated his Ryanair Chase victory in two subsequent starts. Shattered Love, by contrast, is proving herself a tough and highly consistent mare who may be as underestimated by official figures as that rival is overrated.
The market speaks in her favour at the time of writing; so, with Jack Kennedy once again in the saddle, it’s Shattered Love who looks the one most likely to serve it up to Min. She is thus considered the main danger in our 2018 John Durkan Chase betting tips.The Storyteller an each-way alternativeWhile Irish Gold Cup hero Edwulf isn’t fancied to become the first nine-year-old in over 15 years to win this, the each-way alternative at the odds on offer is Elliott’s other runner The Storyteller. This seven-year-old may not have enjoyed as an illustrious hurdles career as others in the line-up, but was a definite progressive type over fences last season.
The Storyteller has won three of his seven chase starts and placed third over course and distance when only beaten 4 1/2 lengths by Invitation Only in January. After Monalee readily confirmed previous hurdles form with him in the Grade 1 Flogas Novas Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival where he was seventh, connections turned to Davy Russell for a plot at one of the ultra-competitive Cheltenham Festival handicaps.
Irish champion jockey Russell timed his ride to perfection in the Brown Advisory Plate when two lengths down and disputing second over the last, only to drive The Storyteller right out and beat that season’s BetVictor Gold Cup hero Splash Of Ginge by 1 3/4 lengths. When you consider he was giving the runner-up 13lb, this was a huge performance.
More to come from least exposed in line-up
Although then fifth and beaten 18 lengths in the Ryanair Gold Cup, The Storyteller proved a revelation when tackling 3m for the first time at the Punchestown Festival. The son of Shantou and a Bob Back mare relished a staying trip and was ridden clear up the run-in to score by six lengths.
While he was a one pace fifth and beaten 12 1/2 lengths at Down Royal last time out on reappearance, The Storyteller came on for his first run last season. He does have work to do with Shattered Love, but is the least exposed over fences of the quintet after just seven starts. It’s thus The Storyteller who completes our 2018 John Durkan Chase betting tips as the each-way selection should Min or Shattered Love fail to fire.Your Next Bet