Min looks the horse to beat in tomorrow’s Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase as his trainer Willie Mullins bids to bag this prestigious prize for the fourth time in six years.

Only five will go to post for this €85,000 contest, with the non-appearance of Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy a disappointment to all.

With ground conditions described yesterday as “yielding, good in places” on the chase track, Pat Kelly decided against re-introducing his stable star and, instead, will target the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown on December 28.

But we’re still set for a fascinating contest, with Ryanair winner Balko Des Flos the highest-rated of the quintet, attempting to bounce back from a dismal seasonal debut run behind Road To Respect in the
JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal, when he was beaten 43 lengths.

Henry de Bromhead, reported some “issues” with his charge and is confident they have been solved.

It seems a better option to rely on Min, making his seasonal bow over a trip in which he scored at Gowran Park and was narrowly beaten by Politologue in the JLT Melling Chase in Aintree last season.

Most of Min’s form has been over two miles, or two miles and one, including a Grade 1 novice success at Leopardstown, a Grade 2 win on the same track last February and a highly creditable second to star two-miler Altior in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

This looks a suitable launch-pad for Min’s season. He’s preferred to Balko Des Flos, which proved too strong for Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair at Cheltenham.

Edwulf, winner of the Irish Gold Cup in February, but subsequently well beaten in Gold Cups at Cheltenham and Punchestown, makes his
seasonal debut but is hard to fancy over this trip.

And it will be interesting to see how Gordon Elliott’s classy mare Shattered Love and The Storyteller, both successful in Grade 1 novice company last season, fare against their more established rivals.

Shattered Love has the benefit of a recent run, when second to Snow Falcon in a Grade 2 in Down Royal last month.

On the supporting card, Grade 1 bumper winner Tornado Flyer, above, will be expected to land the Punchestown Racecourse Of The Year Maiden Hurdle for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, who will also expect Getabird to make a successful start to his chasing career in the beginners event.



12.55.Tornado Flyer

1.25.Curious Times



3.05.Se Mo Laoch (Nap)

3.40.Santana Plessis

Next Best

12.20.Due Reward

12.55.Dream Conti

1.25.Jake Peter

2.00.Balko Des Flos

2.30.Call A Cab

3.05.Cresus De Grissay


Double: Ballyneety and Se Mo Laoch.

O’Hehir’s Longshot: Witness Of Fashion (3.05)

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