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Mighty Min leads home a one-two-three for Willie Mullins at Punchestown

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

Min ridden by Patrick Mullins wins The John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown.
Min ridden by Patrick Mullins wins The John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown.
Image: PA

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 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.”

He added: “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.

Chacun Pour Soi justified long odds-on favouritism to make a winning return to action in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork.

Trained by Willie Mullins, the eight-year-old does not have many miles on the clock and showed his class when beating stablemate Min in the Dublin Chase last season.

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He was among the favourites for the Queen Mother Champion Chase but missed the race at the 11th hour with a minor setback and was having his first run for 309 days.

With stable jockey Paul Townend staying loyal to Chacun Pour Soi, the 1-5 market leader was settled in third as Djingle and Cash Back forced the gallop. 

Just briefly Townend had to give his mount a shake of the reins to take closer order entering the straight, but he was soon back on the bridle and a good leap at the last sealed the deal.

Stablemate Cash Back looked booked for second but took a crashing fall at the last, bringing down Djingle. Thankfully both horses and jockeys escaped unhurt.

While Betfair trimmed the winner into 11-4 from 3-1 for Cheltenham in March, Coral went 3-1 from 7-2.

“It was a great start for him. He was fairly asleep early on in the race and got a good blow into himself,” said Townend.

“He had the other two well beaten when they fell at the last and was entitled to win. Thankfully he did and it’s good to get him back on the track.”

Regarding his jumping, Townend added: “Touch wood, he’s deadly – I don’t want to put the mockers on him. He’s very good.

“The other two have to show their hands earlier with the way they race, he just had that bit of class. He took a good blow and I think he’ll come on plenty for it.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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