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Durkan to pack a punch'

It's quality over quantity at Punchestown tomorrow and the racecourse is taking no chances with the weather as frost covers were deployed around the track yesterday morning.

Sir Des Champs and Flemenstar will clash along with last year's winner Rubi Light and last week's impressive hurdle winner Bog Warrior in the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Chase, which is sure to attract a large crowd to the Kildare venue.

Despite fears of temperatures dropping again tonight, Punchestown's racing manager Richie Galway is confident no problems will arise to prevent the mouth-watering renewal of this year's John Durkan.

Galway told the Herald: "The forecast has improved for Saturday night but we lay the frost covers today (Friday) as a precaution. However, we don't anticipate any problems."

Galway added: "I don't envisage any problems but it was a big loss to lose this race in 2010 and we felt that it was prudent to lay the covers as we have them to use to ensure that we are not left in a similar situation.


"It's a big day, it's great racing and it is certainly the best John Durkan in a long, long time and we wanted to make every effort to make sure there was no problems."

Regarding the ground for Sunday, Galway concluded: "While the going is heavy, there is fresh ground on both tracks and the feature race of the day will be the first of the chases and therefore avail of the best ground."

Flemenstar has been the punters' choice throughout the week and with the benefit of his Fortria Chase win as Sir Des Champs makes his seasonal debut, it is probably easy to see why he looks set to go off favourite.

Also on the card, Mikael D'Haguenet goes in search of compensation for his final fence mistake that cost him his first win over fences at Punchestown last month, when he faces seven rivals in the Blue Square Bet Beginners' Chase.

Patrick Mullins will be looking to further close in on the record of winners for an amateur in a calendar year when he rides Pride Ofthe Parish for his father Willie in the opening 2m4f maiden hurdle, and it will be interesting to see the betting for the concluding bumper where Mullins is on Sizing Tennessee in what looks a very competitive heat.

Rory O'Moore would have to be a tentative choice to land the listed novice hurdle, as with Balnaslow, Home Farm and Waaheb included it is a classy renewal of a race previously won by Go Native.