Min completes John Durkan hat-trick as Willie Mullins dominates race

Heavy fog at Punchestown adds to challenge before card is abandoned after big race

Patrick Mullins on Min (left) and Bryan Cooper on Tornado Flyer land over the last before Min went onto complete a hat-trick of wins in the the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Patrick Mullins on Min (left) and Bryan Cooper on Tornado Flyer land over the last before Min went onto complete a hat-trick of wins in the the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

Min recorded his third successive victory in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown as he led home a Willie Mullins one-two-three in the Grade One feature.

Winner of the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March, Min brought the strongest form to the table and was sent off the 13-8 favourite to complete his hat-trick.

With Paul Townend at Cork to ride Chacun Pour Soi, Patrick Mullins came in for the ride and set out to make all the running.

Given the race was run in thick fog – which would lead to the abandonment of the card later on – it was difficult to see much of the contest, but the Mullins runners were all to the fore.

Battleoverdoyen dropped away before the straight, as did Allaho, and the surprise threat to Min came from Tornado Flyer.

Well-backed late on, Bryan Cooper delivered his challenge late but Min stuck to his task gamely to win by a length, with Melon in third.

Mullins was thrilled with the spin he got from Min and said: “I’m gutted as he put in an exhibition of jumping and you couldn’t see it.

“He settled great in front. Chris’s Dream was beside us a lot of the way. From when we turned down the back he made ground at each jump.

“I was on the bridle down to the second-last and Tornado Flyer suddenly appeared on my outside. Bryan was motionless and I was flat out and was headed going down to the last.

“I winged the last and he kept on really well. He’s push-button stuff and I’d love another go on him.

“Because of Altior, at the start of his career he was seen as a nearly horse, but his longevity of top-quality performances is a very rare thing.

“He’s the first horse to get a hat-trick in this race and he’ll be very hard to replace.”

Min was trimmed a point into 7-1 by Coral to defend his Ryanair crown in March.

Following the big race won by Min, the remainder of the meeting was called off.

Initially the fourth race was delayed by 15 minutes while an inspection was carried out, but on completion of that the decision was taking.

Clerk of the course Brendan Sheridan said: “Following a further consultation with stewards, riders, doctors, judge, trainers and everyone involved, the rest of the meeting has been cancelled.”

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