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Mullins beams after 'brilliant' Min's third John Durkan win


Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Willie Mullins may not have been able to see much of Min's third successive win in the John Durkan Memorial Chase due to thick fog, but he was thrilled by the outcome.

Mullins fielded four runners in the Grade One feature at Punchestown and while it was no surprise Min's biggest threat emerged from his own stable, not too many would have predicted it would come from Tornado Flyer.

The only Mullins runner not making his seasonal debut, his fitness told because while Allaho and latterly Melon dropped away, Tornado Flyer was still upsides jumping the last.

But Min, ridden by Patrick Mullins, pulled out even more and the Ryanair Chase winner became the first horse to land the John Durkan three times.

"To win it first time out was a big effort. He was very brave and did everything right," said Mullins.

"He had to fend off a late challenge from his stablemate, who also ran very well.

"He's won three John Durkans now which is brilliant, and each one under a different jockey which is a record in itself. I'm very happy with him.

"I'd imagine we'll do whatever we did last year with him, which was the Dublin Racing Festival after this."

Mullins was also able to celebrate Chacun Pour Soi's comeback victory in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork.

Like Min owned by Rich Ricci, he was among the favourites for last season's Queen Mother Champion Chase only to be ruled out on the morning of the race and Mullins is plotting a route back to Cheltenham.

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Last season he began his campaign with a defeat at Leopardstown over Christmas before returning to winning ways at the Dublin Racing Festival in February.

While perhaps not at his exuberant best, he did not need to be and had the race won when stablemate Cash Back fell at the last, bringing down Djingle.

"With Chacun Pour Soi it was a case of trying to get a clear round in before the Grade Ones later in the season," said Mullins.

"When the opportunity arose, at the last minute we decided to head down there and it was nice to get a Grade Two and a run under his belt.

"He did what he had to do, he wasn't impressive or anything, but he just did what he had to do.

"He could run at Christmas and the Dublin Festival, but I haven't any firm plans made. We'll see how he comes out of this."

Ealier at Punchestown, Skyace continued her rags to riches story with a clear-cut success in the Listed Voler La Vedette Mares Novice Hurdle.

Bought for £600 having failed to win in three outings for Mullins, the Shark Hanlon-trained mare was winning over hurdles for the fourth time.

A surprise 66/1 winner in Grade Three company at Down Royal last time out, the five-year-old was conceding weight to all her rivals as a result.

But that did not seem to matter in the slightest, as Jody McGarvey - who has struck up a good relationship with Hanlon's charge having been on board for all her wins - always looked confident.

Finest Evermore, trained by Mullins, was sent off the odds-on favourite but was beaten approaching the last as Skyace rewarded her supporters at 28/1, winning by five lengths with The Sliding Rock battling on for second past the market leader.

The winner was cut to 33/1 from 50s for the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

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