Exciting Irish chaser Quito De La Roque will not run in Sunday’s Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial chase at Punchestown and will instead be kept fresh ahead of a bid for the Grade 1 Lexus Chase at Leopardstown’s feature Christmastime meeting, writes Elliot Slater.

Currently as short as 12/1 co-second favourite in the ante-post lists for the Cheltenham 2012 Gold Cup next March, Colm Murphy’s horse is the only horse trained in the Emerald Isle quoted at less than 33/1 in a race that looks likely to be dominated by British-trained runners, so the hopes of his nation appear to rest most squarely on the shoulders of the in-form seven-year-old.

A winner of all five outings so far in 2011, Quito de La Roque had been expected to compete at Punchestown but after much thought Murphy has decided that there is probably not enough of a break between the ‘John Durkan’ race and Leopardstown and has therefore decided to err on the side of caution and give his charge a few extra weeks break following his most recent win when proving too good for champion chaser Sizing Europe in the Grade 1 JNwine.com Chase at Down Royal at the start of last month. People looking at the Cheltenham Ante post betting should remember this.

A winner at the Aintree Festival last spring when getting the better of a titanic struggle with Sarando to land the Grade 2 John Smith’s Mildmay Novices Chase by a neck, Murphy’s star then went on to win his fourth race of the year when slamming Western Charmer by 14-lengths to win the Grade 1 Growise Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival in May.

It appears likely that whatever the outcome of the race, after running at Leopardstown Quito De La Roque will be given a mid-season break before coming back to bid for the Gold Cup and other top prizes towards the end of the season.

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