MIN looked a Ryanair prospect with a classy and tough performance to land the Grade One John Durkan Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.
Having chased home Altior in both the Supreme Novices and the Champion Chase at the last two Cheltenham Festivals, the Willie Mullins team and Ruby Walsh will be keen to avoid Nicky Henderson’s superstar with Min this time.
And with good reason as the Champion Chaser looked as good as ever when mastering their game ten year old Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek at Sandown.
Some welcome rainfall has enabled Mullins to finally move up the gears with his usual high class challenge for all the big races.
Mind you it was still officially good, good to yielding ground at Punchestown and Tornado Flyer skipped over nicely it for Walsh when landing the maiden hurdle.
Big things are expected from that 4/9 hotpot who was quite superb in bumpers last season.
He could go straight to a Grade Two at Leopardstown on December 27 Mullins said, or wait for a Grade One over two and a half miles at Naas in early January.
He certainly had them well strung out and could be ready to reach for the stars.
He loved the decent ground and of course being by Flemensfirth should have little trouble dealing with more juice in the surface when called upon.
Walsh and Mullins were also on target with 4/7 fancy Getabird who flopped big time when favourite for the Supreme Novices. That failure was no surprise to followers of our Irish Racing Service as we had repeatedly pointed out that Susannah Ricci’s gelding is way superior when racing right handed.
He made an impressive start over fences now, travelling and jumping sweetly. We’ll hardly see him at Leopardstown for reasons already stated, but the new Grade One at Limerick on Boxing Day looks a realistic target.
A huge leap in class and grade from last Sunday for sure, but he looks more than good enough.
Predictably, Cork had the softer ground that so many have been calling out for and here again Mullins ruled the roost with Camelia The Cote a highly impressive winner of the mares novice chase. She jumped for fun and skated home under Paul Townend. Certainly one for the notebook.
However even for the Mullins team it can’t be glory all the way, and Great Field was an early casualty in the Hilly Way won by 16/1 shot Castlegrace Paddy.
Hard to judge the form really as Special Tiara hated the ground, but connections rate the Pat Fahy trained winner very highly and he must not be underestimated when turning up at Leopardstown on December 27th.