Allaho repelled all challengers to win the John Durkan Memorial Chase
Allaho repelled all challengers to win the John Durkan Memorial Chase

Willie Mullins admits there were a couple of concerns over Ryanair Chase champion Allaho's performance on Sunday, despite his victory in the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase

Allaho is expected to line up to defend his Ryanair Chase crown at the Cheltenham Festival in March and looked to be in decent shape when reappearing for the season in Ireland. 

Winning ahead of two other Mullins horses in the shape of Janidil (second) and Melon (third), Allaho came home two lengths clear at Punchestown in the end after Asterion Forlonge had unseated his rider when he looked set to challenge three fences out. 

Mullins declared himself more than satisfied with Allaho's victory but admitted there were things to work on ahead of the rest of the National Hunt campaign, with the trip to Prestbury Park for the Festival slowly coming into view. 

Mullins says Allaho's fighting qualities were there for all to see in the race as he stood up to the considerable opponents he faced, although favourite Envoi Allen could only manage an off-the-pace sixth in the final reckoning. 

Afterwards, Mullins said of the seven-year-old's win: "I was delighted how he fought back. When Asterion Forlonge came up alongside him I thought that would take the stuffing out of him. Each challenger that came, he kept pulling it out.

"He raced very lazily today which is not like him and he was going a bit to his left which is not like him, so we will have to look at all that for the future."

Mullins' stable taking the first three places represented a fine afternoon's work for the Closutton-based handler, even though the Irishman was keen to point out it's still early in the season with bigger tests to come. 

Willie Mullins is hoping there is more to come from his team despite John Durkan 1-2-3
Willie Mullins is hoping there is more to come from his team despite John Durkan 1-2-3

He added: "Our horses are not fully wound up yet and I was hoping his ability would pull him through. Taking on horses with a run under their belt can be very tough. 

"I was very happy with the way they all performed and hoping they will all improve from that." 

Allaho, who was sixth in the John Durkan 12 months ago, then opted to take in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown last Christmas, when he finished fourth, but his route to Cheltenham this year has yet to be confirmed by Mullins.

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