Min to take on Tombstone at Punchestown
A tantalising clash between Min and Tombstone could be on the cards for Saturday's Grade Two Novices' Hurdle at Punchestown.
Ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle before he was ever seen on an Irish racecourse and despite being beaten on his only two starts in France, the highly-regarded Willie Mullins-trained Min danced up in a maiden hurdle at the Kildare venue last month.
He is now as short as 5/2 for the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser. In all, there are nine entries for Saturday's €42,000 event titled in honour of Moscow Flyer, and an encounter with Gordon Elliott's Tombstone would be hugely informative.
A slightly unlucky loser when second to Long Dog in Grade One company over Christmas, Tombstone is also expected to develop into a serious prospect.
Mullins (above) and Elliott both have three engaged in the race, while Tombstone is one of three Gigginstown Stud entries. Elliott has also indicated that Gigginstown's recent Grade One winner Prince Of Scars could have the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on January 30 as an alternative option to Gowran Park's Galmoy Hurdle in a fortnight's time.
Mullins, meanwhile, has expressed himself happy with Un De Sceaux after his crashing fall, indicating that he could run in either Punchestown's Tied Cottage Chase on January 31 or Ascot's Clarence House Chase eight days earlier.
Speaking at the unveiling of the entries for the new Coral-backed handicaps at Leopardstown on Sunday week, Mullins suggested that the busy Long Dog might not run again before Cheltenham.
He confirmed that Faugheen, Nichols Canyon and Arctic Fire could all contest the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle and that Vautour will likely have another outing somewhere before the Festival in March.