Awesome Allaho says aloha to Cheltenham 2022 after John Durkan Memorial win

Willie Mullins' Allaho pushed the agenda for the Ryanair Chase at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival with a solid win in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown.

The frighteningly talented Allaho led Willie Mullins to wrap up the first three in the John Durkan Memorial as an early Christmas precent at Punchestown.

A brilliant winner of last season's Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Allaho was a 7-2 shot to make a successful reappearance in a race in which the champion trainer saddled seven of the 10 runners.

Sent straight to the lead by the trainer's son Patrick Mullins, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned seven-year-old jumped well in the main to keep his rivals at bay.

Another Mullins inmate, Asterion Forlonge, looked set to mount a bold challenge as he was travelling well before unshipping his rider three fences from home.

Janidil then emerged as the biggest threat from the home turn, but despite tiring, Allaho dug deep to see off his stablemate's challenge by two lengths.

Perennial bridesmaid Melon was best of the rest of third, with 7-4 favourite Envoi Allen ultimately disappointing in sixth.

Mullins said of the winner: "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."

Allaho was winning on his seasonal bow for the first time and Mullins expects all of his runners to come on for the outing, with the winner's class proving crucial.

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."

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