Min gutsy on return to land the John Durkan at Punchestown
Getabird makes a winning start over fences as Tornado Flyer wins on hurdles bow
Min and Ruby Walsh en-route to landing the John Durkan at Punchestown. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
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.”
Ladbrokes quoted Min at 6-1 joint-favourite for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, with RaceBets 8-1 from 14-1 for the Champion Chase.
Mullins and Walsh had earlier struck with Tornado Flyer, who looks set for bigger things following his successful debut over jumps in the Punchestown Racecourse Of The Year Maiden Hurdle.
“Ruby said he was very keen,” said the Closutton handler of the 4-9 winner.
“It was nice to get his maiden win. We’ll look at Christmas and we’ll look at the race at Naas (Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle) in January.”
Tornado Flyer was cut to 10-1 from 20-1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and 12-1 from 20s for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with Paddy Power.
Meanwhile, Getabird could bid for Grade One honours at Limerick after impressing on his fencing debut in the GAIN Supporting Laois GAA Beginners Chase.
Mullins named the Matchbook Betting Chase Novice Chase as the target at Christmas for the dual Grade Two hurdle winner, who made the perfect start to his career over the bigger obstacles.
Always up with the pace, the 4-7 favourite was sent about his business by Walsh - who was sealing a hat-trick — before the final fence, before going on to win by seven and a half lengths from Articulum.
“That was a good exhibition of jumping and he did it well. He likes this track,” said Mullins, who was completing a hat-trick of his own on the card and six-timer on the day after three winners at Cork.
“He’s better right-handed and Leopardstown is left-handed at Christmas. We might head towards Limerick for the new Grade One over two and a half miles.
“That race has been lucky enough for us over the years. I don’t know if he wants that heavy type of ground that they might get in Limerick, but we’ll have to take what we get.
“I’m easy enough about trip with him. It was the fact that this race was in Punchestown why I ran him here.”
Getabird was trimmed to 12-1 from 16-1 with RaceBets for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.