The high-quality card at Punchestown is our focus on Sunday with the John Durkan Memorial Chase the highlight
The high-quality card at Punchestown is our focus on Sunday with the John Durkan Memorial Chase the highlight

There is plenty to look forward to racing-wise on Sunday afternoon and nowhere more so than at peerless Punchestown where they host perhaps the race of the season so far in a high-quality John Durkan Memorial Chase at 2pm. 

They race at the Co Kildare venue from 11.55am-3.35pm on Sunday afternoon and we've selected five to keep tabs on at Punchestown. 

11.55am - BetVictor Loyalty Club Rated Novice Hurdle (2m)

Worth tuning in early to see what could be a proper duel between CROWNS MAJOR and Top Bandit, impressive winners of three hurdles races between them this season so far. 

Gordon Elliott's charge followed a Cheltenham maiden score in October with a win over C&D last month but Crowns Major was rated 97 on the Flat and he started life over hurdles with a smooth Cork win (2m, soft) after which trainer Emmet Mullins was talking him up as a graded novice in the making. 

LiveScore Selection: Crowns Major 

1.25pm - BetVictor Proud To Support Irish Racing Mares Novice Hurdle (Listed, 2m3½f)

Gordon Elliott's mare PARTY CENTRAL was underwhelming when favourite for a Grade 3 hurdle at Down Royal last month, but perhaps that 2m1f trip was not ideal given her winning start at Listowel came over further. 

She has got to improve but still has scope to do so and it is too soon to be writing her off. 

LiveScore Selection: Party Central 

2pm - John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase (Grade 1, 2m4½f)

Grade 1 by name and, for sure, Grade 1 by nature given the depth of talent that was declared for this race. Min is no longer here to try and win a fourth instalment, now happily enjoying his retirement, and trainer Willie Mullins goes four-strong without him as Kemboy, Melon, Asterion Forlonge and ALLAHO step out for him. 

The Ryanair Chase winner will be sent out to attack given how those tactics paid out in Cheltenham in March and he will certainly test the mettle of a rejuvenate Envoi Allen in the same Cheveley Park Stud colours. 

With Fakir D'oudairies also in the mix for Joseph O'Brien, this is a race to be savoured. 

LiveScore Selection: Allaho 

2.35pm - BetVictor Beginners Chase (2m1f)

Big things are expected of Ferny Hollow
Big things are expected of Ferny Hollow

The excitement does not stop at the feature race as we quickly move on to a beginners' chase that includes 2020 Champion Bumper hero Ferny Hollow, Coeur Sublime and useful hurdler You Raised Me Up - amongst others. 

It could be a big hour for Cheveley Park. FERNY HOLLOW beat no less than Bob Olinger in his lone hurdles start last term before injury interrupted him. His move into the chasing ranks is eagerly anticipated. 

LiveScore Selection: Ferny Hollow 

3.35pm - Irish Stallion Farms EBF Auction (Pro/Am) Flat Race (2m)

Gordon Elliott's Keepthefaithinme has shown enough ability thus far to be confident he will win a bumper before too long but THE FLIER BEGLEY is preferred for the very able Stuart Crawford team. 

He was third at Navan back in the spring in a contest which those around him (first, second and fourth) were winners since. Hooded now, he can step up on that showing. 

LiveScore Selection: The Flier Begley

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