The build-up to Christmas continues at Puchestown on Sunday with the John Durkan Chase and following on from some good horses that have won this race in the past, I think the winner of Sunday's renewal will really put himself in the shop window for some big races later this season like the Lexus and the King George first of all and hopefully then the Gold Cup or the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.
Both the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere and Punchestown Gold Cup winner Boston Bob will go head-to-head with the up and coming Don Cossack also thrown in to the mix but after taking two Grade Ones from Fairyhouse last weekend I think Boston Bob could give Willie Mullins another one on Sunday.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a race that looks wide open next year and is in need of a horse to come out and stamp their authority on the staying chase division and while the Durkan is only a stepping stone towards doing that, I think if Boston Bob can win on Sunday over 2m4f, a race like the Lexus over 3m at Leopardstown will be tailor made for him.
At the moment there is no stand out horse for the Gold Cup and as it stands right now it looks like next year's could be just as wide open as this year's was.
We would all like to see a horse come along and prove that he can be remembered alongside the likes of a Kauto Star, Best Mate or War Of Attrition.
There is a lot of young talent coming through in Ireland, especially in the novice ranks this year so maybe in a couple of years time we will be comparing a horse to the aforementioned greats and if he goes and wins another Gold Cup maybe Lord Windemere will be put in that bracket, but at the moment the so called 'X Factor' is missing from the staying chasers.
The thing I like about Boston Bob is that he didn't run until New Year's Eve last year and he started off with his first two runs over hurdles and didn't jump a fence until the Ryanair where he ran well to finish sixth. Then he went to Aintree and Punchestown and won Grade Ones at both so he's a very high class horse and I thought he was running a nice race in Down Royal last month until he got badly hampered so that's why I make him the one to beat on Sunday.
In saying all of that about the Gold Cup, if ever there was a weekend that proved you shouldn't look too far ahead in horse racing it was last weekend at Fairyhouse.
First of all, it was a huge shame and very disappointing for everyone that Annie Power didn't make the Hatton's Grace. She is the top class mare of the moment and a horse that everyone want s to see but thankfully the problem that ruled her out of last weekend doesn't seem to be that serious and she should be back gearing up for Cheltenham after Christmas.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Allez Colombieres who came to the yard with a big reputation and carried a lot of hopes and dreams but sadly they won't be realised and the dreams were short lived and even though he wasn't there an awful long time, he'll be sadly missed by all in Willie's nonetheless.
Obviously, one of the big talking points of the week came at Clonmel yesterday where both Philip Enright and Davy Russell got five- day bans that would rule them out of the bulk of the Christmas racing.
It's been well documented what happened, but I think very few people could agree with the severity of this ban.
What happened was wrong and there's no doubt about that and the lads themselves I'm sure would be the first to admit it, but fine them their riding fee's and give them one day but not five and miss three days of Christmas.
What happened was done in a heartbeat and if they had their time again I'm sure they wouldn't dream of but the penalty did not mean the crime.
They should not miss Christmas for that when livelihoods are at stake.