If Min doesn’t follow in the illustrious hoofprints of Douvan and Vautour by winning Saturday’s Grade 2 highlight at Punchestown those who believe they have a firm grip of racing’s grapevine are set for a major land.
Douvan started at 1-3 for last year's Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle: a year previously Vautour won at 1-4. Both went on to land the Supreme at Cheltenham and Min is already an 11-4 favourite to score in the same race at the festival.
The scale of his own reputation, and the potential paucity of his opposition this weekend, is such that some bookmakers reckon he will start at even shorter odds than Douvan and Vautour for his second start in Ireland.
The first yielded an impressive course victory over the subsequent bumper winner Gurteen which corresponded to the huge expectations surrounding his start for Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci.
“Vautour and Douvan both won their first races for us and stepped up – now Min has to do the same,” said
. “It was great he showed on the track what he’d been showing us at home, as that isn’t always the case.
“There’s been a lot of excitement about the horse, so I suppose it was a relief as much as anything to see him go and do it on the racecourse.”
A couple of years ago Union Dues threatened to take a high rank among the Mullins novice team but the Grade 2 bumper winner only makes his jumping debut now. He can start making up for lost time but Arctic Skipper looks capable of upsetting the Mullins applecart in the opening Beginners Chase.
Jonathan Burke travels to Chepstow for three rides for local trainer Rebecca Curtis, including Red Devil Lads in the Coral Welsh Grand National. Portrait King is the sole Irish-trained hope, with Patrick Griffin's stayer bidding to follow in the hoofprints of Notre Pere, successful for Jim Dreaper in 2008.