Min can prove merciless as Mullins plots familiar path to Festival glory
Published 09/01/2016 | 02:30
Min will race for a second and possibly final time in this country ahead of the Cheltenham Festival when he lines out at Punchestown today.
Willie Mullins' Supreme Novices' Hurdle favourite effectively pulled his way to the front before dancing 14 lengths clear of Gurteen on his first outing here last month.
The runner-up has since won a Leopardstown bumper, so you'd have to conclude that it was an above-average display from Min. Conditions were soft then, but they will be more testing this time. Being by Douvan's sire Walk In The Park - which has a covering fee of €3,500 that must be one of the stud business's finest bargains - that shouldn't be an issue.
Had Tombstone turned up in this €42,000 Sky Bet Grade Two, chances are that we would have got an even better idea of just how good Min is. With just four seemingly inferior rivals, though, the likelihood is that Rich Ricci's Min will potter around at his leisure at odds of close to 1/10 under Ruby Walsh.
Both Vautour and Douvan have taken this two-miler named in honour of Moscow Flyer en route to glory in the Supreme. Whether that is the fate that awaits Min is hard to predict with any confidence at this stage, but he will surely complete the first part of the double now.
Of his rivals, the Gigginstown Stud duo of Attribution and Ball D'Arc are the pick, though they look considerably less precocious sorts.
Mullins and Walsh might also collect with Union Dues in the maiden hurdle that follows. This is a far more open-looking 22-runner affair, with Stuccodor, Lift The Latch and Wolfslair all interesting sorts with differing profiles.
However, if Union Dues turns up close to the top of his game on his first run since the 2013 Galway festival, he is the one to beat. A dual bumper winner prior to finishing eighth in that year's Champion Bumper, the eight-year-old was last seen readily beating Darwins Fox and Owega Star on his Flat bow for Patrick Mullins at Ballybrit.
He has plenty class, and, while an 892-day absence might be a concern were he trained elsewhere, it simply isn't with Mullins. He and Bryan Cooper combine for Measureofmydreams in the opening beginners' chase. Again, this fellow has a chance, but preference is for Vincent Halley's Arctic Skipper.
Andrew Lynch's progressive mount has run just six times in all, winning a point-to-point, then finishing second in a bumper and maiden hurdle before scoring over flights at Naas in February.
Well beaten behind Killultagh Vic in Grade One company at Punchestown, he emerged with lots of credit when second to the same horse on their respective fencing bows over two miles at Fairyhouse last month.
If Arctic Skipper comes on as much as expected for this two-and-a-half-mile trip, then he sets a decent standard.
The day's nap vote goes to Court Frontier in the Conyngham Cup for amateur riders. Gordon Elliott's top-weighted Unic De Bersy is sure to have a big say in this, but Court Frontier is the one to keep on side for now.
Representing Alan Fleming's in-form team, the former hunter chaser lost his place in the Martinstown race at Leopardstown, before keeping on again to be third. That was over two miles and five furlongs, and the suspicion is that he will be happier over this three-mile-one-furlong journey.
Off a pound higher rating under Roger Quinlan, Court Frontier should make amends.
Walsh, Cooper and Davy Russell are pencilled in for duty on tomorrow's rescheduled Tramore card, which is subject to a 2.0 check this afternoon.
Walsh and Mullins go to war with Ballycasey in the At The Races Chase, but Cooper is tipped to guide Elliott's redoubtable Roi Du Mee to victory in the €30,000 Listed race for a third time since 2013.
The nap vote falls to Elliott's Barry Geraghty-ridden Myztique in the mares' maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse, where the €100,000 Dan Moore Chase could go the way of Nearly Nama'd under Geraghty. Sandra Hughes's charge beat the subsequent Paddy Power Chase winner Minella Foru in style over course and distance in November, so a seven-pound hike here doesn't look especially punitive.