Minimum of fuss for Mullins and Walsh in Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase
Champion trainer Willie Mullins won the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown for a fifth time on Sunday as Min shrugged off the challenge of Shattered Love and Balko Des Flos.
Ridden to victory by Ruby Walsh, Min was the middle leg of a treble for Mullins and his stable jockey at Punchestown as the Evens favourite recorded a second career victory at Grade 1 level.
Min travelled strongly throughout the 2m4f contest and put any fears about his stamina to bed in the closing stages by outstaying the Gigginstown pair of Shattered Love and Blako Des Flos by a length and a half and two and a half lengths respectively.
Mullins will now keep his options open for the versatile seven-year-old.
“Min jumped brilliant and I was very pleased with that,” said the trainer afterwards. “He pulled very hard in behind there today so I wouldn’t mind going back to two miles with him at all as he has the speed for that. We’ll just wait and see what we have in that division. Un De Sceaux, Great Field and Footpad are there so maybe we’ll try and pick and choose our races over a longer trip for Min.
“It didn’t look like he was stopping today. I liked the way he jumped even though he was keen but I’m not looking to go three miles with him.”
The Grade 1 Racing Post Punchestown Champion Bumper winner Tornado Flyer returned the scene of his finest triumph to win the Punchestown Racecourse Of The Year Maiden Hurdle.
Tornado Flyer made a perfect start to his career over hurdles on his first start of the season and may return to Grade 1 company for his next outing.
“It was nice to get his maiden win today and he’ll be entered for Leopardstown at Christmas but I think we might look at running him in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Novice Hurdle at Naas in early January.”
There was also a winning start to the season for Getabird who won the GAIN Support Laois GAA Beginners Chase.
Winner of the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown last season, Getabird impressed to win on his chasing debut by seven and a half lengths from the Terence O’Brien-trained Articulum.
Mullins said: “He likes the track here and he is probably better going right handed. It was a good exhibition of jumping and he did it well. When we are starting the horses off in maiden hurdles or beginners chases I don’t really take much notice of the distance I just want to get them out on the track. I’m not sure Getabird would want the heavy type of ground that they might get in Limerick but the new Grade 1 novice chase down there at Christmas could be the race for him as it is right handed.”
Rachael Blackmore enjoyed a double on the day when winning the opening Join Our 2019 Members Rated Novice Hurdle on Due Reward for Henry de Bromhead before landing the Sherry FitzGerald Lettings Handicap Hurdle on Artic Pearl for trainer Martin Brassil.
The K Club Handicap Chase went the way of Se Mo Laoch for trainer Brian McMahon and leading amateur rider Derek O'Connor.