Punchestown report: Mighty Min digs deep to land John Durkan

Sun 9 Dec 2018

Min showed admirable battling qualities to make a winning return to action in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase at the Naas track.

Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old was short of room approaching the second-last fence, but he answered Ruby Walsh’s call by bravely going through the tight gap to hit the front before the last.

The even-money favourite jumped it cleanly and galloped on resolutely to beat the Gordon Elliott-trained Shattered Love by a length and a half in the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One feature.

Another Elliott inmate, The Storyteller, was third, with long-time leader Balko Des Flos fourth and Edwulf last of the five runners.

Mullins said: “Ruby was maybe a bit bold there, but he had to do what he had to do. It was good and the horse responded. He jumped brilliantly and I was very pleased with that.

“I don’t mind going back to two at all, he pulled very hard in behind there today, and he has the speed for two.

“He’ll probably go back in trip for Christmas, but we’ll see what we have in his division.

“We have Un De Sceaux there and Great Field so we could try to keep this fellow at a longer trip and try to find races for him.

“It didn’t look like he was stopping today, but it was a very slow-run race, I thought, and he was very keen in behind, but I liked the way he jumped even though he was keen.

“I’m not looking to go out to three miles with him, to be honest.”

The Grade One Racing Post Punchestown Champion Bumper winner Tornado Flyer returned the scene of his finest triumph to win the Punchestown Racecourse Of The Year Maiden Hurdle.

Tornado Flyer made a perfect start to his career over hurdles on his first start of the season and may return to Grade One company for his next outing.

Mullins said: “It was nice to get his maiden win today and he’ll be entered for Leopardstown at Christmas but I think we might look at running him in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Novice Hurdle at Naas in early January.”

There was also a winning start to the season for Getabird who won the GAIN Support Laois GAA Beginners' Chase.

Winner of the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last season, Getabird impressed to win on his chasing debut by seven and a half lengths from the Terence O’Brien-trained Articulum.

Mullins said: “He likes the track here and he is probably better going right handed. It was a good exhibition of jumping and he did it well.

"When we are starting the horses off in maiden hurdles or beginners chases I don’t really take much notice of the distance I just want to get them out on the track.

"I’m not sure Getabird would want the heavy type of ground that they might get in Limerick but the new Grade 1 novice chase down there at Christmas could be the race for him as it is right handed.”

Rachael Blackmore enjoyed a double on the day when winning the opening Join Our 2019 Members Rated Novice Hurdle on Due Reward for Henry de Bromhead before landing the Sherry FitzGerald Lettings Handicap Hurdle on Artic Pearl for trainer Martin Brassil.

The K Club Handicap Chase went the way of Se Mo Laoch for trainer Brian McMahon and leading amateur rider Derek O'Connor.

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