Willie Mullins is pretty used to success in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown. The Irish trainer has now landed the winner in four consecutive editions of the race, making eight wins for Mullins overall in his career.
After Min won the prestigious race for three years running between 2018 and 2020, Allaho picked up the mantle and produced a stunning performance, with Willie’s son Patrick the man in the saddle for the victory. It’s hard to believe that, 20 years on from his first John Durkan Chase win in 2001, Mullins is still landing winners at the highest level.
It was a cracking race that brought him this latest triumph, as Allaho overcame a mid-race setback to triumph. Having led for much of the early exchanges, Allaho was overtaken by stablemate Asterion Forlonge, before the latter inexplicably unseated his rider, allowing Allaho to regain the lead and navigate his way to victory. Neither second-place Janidil nor third-place Melon — both Mullins horses — could catch up, whilst pre-race favourite Envoi Allen was consigned to a disappointing sixth.
“I was delighted how he fought back,” Mullins said. “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.”
When you look at the horse betting sites UK and see that many of the entries are from Mullins’ stables, it’s perhaps no surprise that the Irishman reigned supreme at Punchestown once again, but it is still an impressive achievement to boast so many victories in one specific race.
Without the mercurial presence of Min this year, there were no guarantees that a Mullins horse would claim first place, especially with Envoi Allen in the field of participants. But Allaho is a horse with plenty of experience in the tank. The seven-year-old won the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival back in March, with Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, and it’s clear that the horse has the potential to win any race he is entered in.
It’ll be interesting to see how this season pans out for Mullins. He had a good campaign in 2020-21, but in many ways, his achievements were overshadowed by those of fellow trainer Henry De Bromhead.
Indeed, Mullins won the Leading Trainer accolade at the Cheltenham Festival, but if you asked most racing fans which trainer was the standout competitor at the Prestbury Park meeting, they’d probably say De Bromhead.
Mullins’ aim this year will be to make his mark in the biggest races. Whether it’s the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, the Cheltenham showpiece races in March, or indeed the Grand National at Aintree in April, Mullins will have his sights set on landing victories in some of the biggest races of the year.
Allaho’s win at Punchestown is a fine result in a race where Mullins always excels, but the ambitious trainer will be gunning for bigger and better things this season.