Tag Archive for: Min

Monkfish sidelined due to tendon injury

Monkfish has been ruled out for the season after suffering a tendon injury, while stablemate Min has been retired.

Monkfish was a three-times Grade One winner over fences last term, including the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but was beaten by fellow Willie Mullins inmate Colreevy on his final outing of the year at Punchestown.

The seven-year-old was already among the favourites for next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, but he will not be racing this term.

Mullins told www.sportinglife.com: “Unfortunately he has an issue with a tendon and it requires the season off.”

The Closutton handler also reports Min, a seven-times Grade One winner, will bow out after suffering an injury when pulled up in the Ryanair Chase back in March.

Mullins added: “He gave Susannah and Rich (Ricci, owners) and the team here some wonderful days over the years, including the win at Cheltenham, and was a tremendous horse.”

Cheltenham Festival day three – Paisley bidding to reclaim Stayers’ crown

The Thursday of Cheltenham offers three Grade One contests, with the card headlined by Paisley Park’s Festival comeback in the Stayers’ Hurdle.

The Paddy Power-sponsored event may be the joint-feature, but the opening race of the third day is equally fascinating as the unbeaten Envoi Allen bids for the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

The Ryanair Chase shares top billing, with Willie Mullins seemingly holding all of the aces with his highly-fancied trio of runners.

There are then large-field handicaps for punters to solve, with the running of the Pertemps Network Final and the Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase, after which the Grade Two Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle looks set to be dominated by Irish runners and riders.

Infallible Envoi?

Envoi Allen winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
Envoi Allen winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Envoi Allen heads to the Marsh Novices’ Chase with a flawless record of 11 runs and 11 victories, the most recent of which was a comfortable success in the Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown. He has since switched to the yard of Henry de Bromhead after departing Gordon Elliott’s stable and the eyes of the racing world will be on the seven-year-old as he bids to confirm his superstar status.

Mullins the man to beat, again

Min has been a fine servant to the Willie Mullins yard
Min has been a fine servant to the Willie Mullins yard (Tim Goode/PA)

The market can barely split the three Mullins runners that head the field for the Ryanair, with Allaho, Melon and Min all expected to shine. Out of the trio only Allaho was a winner last time out, but Min has the superior Cheltenham form, having been successful 12 months ago, and Melon was only a nose off taking the Marsh Novices’ Chase last year.

People’s horse Paisley on the comeback trail

Paisley Park would be a hugely popular winner
Paisley Park would be a hugely popular winner (David Davies/PA)

Paisley Park would be hugely popular winner if he were to triumph for Emma Lavelle in the Stayers’ Hurdle. He won the race in 2019 but was well beaten last season when suffering with an irregular heartbeat. After treatment he has bounced back to his best this term and is highly-fancied after the main threat to his success, Philip Hobbs’ Thyme Hill, was ruled out with a minor injury. Rebecca Curtis’ Lisnagar Oscar was a shock 50-1 winner last season and is back for more.

Novice mares meet again

Royal Kahala is another leading contender for Ireland
Royal Kahala is another leading contender for Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

Royal Kahala and Roseys Hollow will meet again in the the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, with the latter having prevailed by two lengths when the two crossed paths in the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last time out. Willie Mullins also has a live chance in the race as Hook Up reverts to her own sex after finishing fourth behind Appreciate It in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Mullins confident Min can bounce back in Ryanair defence

Willie Mullins retains faith that Min can make a bold attempt to retain his Ryanair Chase title – despite an evident blip in his ultra-consistent record at Leopardstown last month.

Min, a neck winner of Thursday’s Grade One last year from Saint Calvados, has been a model of reliability throughout his career until pulling up after jumping poorly in the Dublin Chase.

Paul Townend was on board the yard’s odds-on winning favourite Chacun Pour Soi that day, over a trip three furlongs shorter than this, but the powerhouse yard’s number one jockey will renew his association with Min this week.

Mullins is also set to field Allaho, Festival regular Melon and outsider Tornado Flyer in a field of 14 which features a strong British challenge from Kim Bailey’s Imperial Aura and Nicky Henderson’s Mister Fisher.

Min (right) beat Saint Calvados last year
Min (right) beat Saint Calvados last year (Simon Cooper/PA)

Ireland’s multiple champion trainer prefers to focus on Min’s largely exemplary career record, rather than his recent aberration, and reports the 10-year-old in fine form at home.

“Nothing has shown up with Min (after the Dublin Chase), and I’m not really worried,” said Mullins.

“He just missed one fence down the back, and took off too soon.

“(Jockey) Patrick (Mullins) did say he felt he wasn’t galloping, and maybe the pace was too fast for him over that shorter trip and we shouldn’t have run him over the shorter trip – so once things weren’t happening we were happy to pull up.”

Allaho is among the favourites for Mullins
Allaho is among the favourites for Mullins (Niall Carson/PA)

Mullins hopes Allaho, a close third over an extended three miles in championship novice company at Cheltenham last year, will also be running over his optimum distance this time.

His only concern for his three principals is that they could conceivably compromise one another’s chances.

“The three of them have similar tactics and methods of running – which might backfire against us a little bit,” he said.

“I always thought Allaho was going to be a three-mile, out-and-out staying chaser – the way he gallops and jumps – but his sire (No Risk At All) probably holds him back a little bit from having huge stamina, so he may just have a higher cruising speed at a shorter distance.

“He jumps very well and if you can match the two, possibly over that shorter trip it might suit him.”

Samcro (left) and Melon both ran in the Marsh last year
Samcro (left) and Melon both ran in the Marsh last year (Tim Goode/PA)

Melon has run with great credit in defeat at the last four Festivals, finishing second each time, and he too has had the Mullins camp scratching their heads over his best trip of late.

“We looked at Christmas and the race at the Dublin Racing Festival for Melon, and he doesn’t enjoy being held up,” added the trainer.

“He much preferred what he was doing at Christmas (tracking the leaders), and possibly the trip (an extended three miles) was too long (last time).”

Bailey did make an initial Gold Cup entry for Imperial Aura, a Festival handicap winner at close to this distance 12 months ago, but the Ryanair was always by far his most likely target.

The Cotswolds trainer said: “We go there with a very strong chance.

“I think it’s a very strong an competitive race, as they all are (at Cheltenham).”

Imperial Aura unshipped David Bass last time
Imperial Aura unshipped David Bass last time (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Imperial Aura uncharacteristically unseated his rider David Bass when evens favourite in a Kempton Grade Two to win for the fourth time in succession on his last appearance two months ago.

But Bass said: “He’s schooled brilliantly since Kempton, and I find his jumping is better the quicker he’s going, so the way the Ryanair should pan out will suit him.

“I tend not to be as much of a form analyst as usual (at the Festival), because I just have to concentrate on my horse.

“The Ryanair looks wide open – you could give a chance to so many, so I think it will be a cracking race. I think he’s good enough to win, and I’m excited to ride in the race.”

Mister Fisher won at Cheltenham in December
Mister Fisher won at Cheltenham in December (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Henderson has justifiably high hopes too for Mister Fisher, kept fresh since his decisive Cheltenham victory in December’s rerouted Peterborough Chase.

“He’s a lovely horse with a great temperament and a great attitude – a proper professional,” he said.

“He won the Lightning Novices’ Chase over two miles at Doncaster last year, so he’s got the pace, and he stays and jumps.

“I’d be very hopeful he’ll be competitive.”

Kalashnikov represents Amy Murphy
Kalashnikov represents Amy Murphy (Nigel French/PA)

Amy Murphy’s Peterborough runner-up Kalashnikov returns for the Ryanair too, with Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies – second in the 2020 Arkle – and Denise Foster’s two-time Festival winner Samcro also in the line up.

O’Brien’s confidence is boosted by Fakir D’oudairies’ Cheltenham form.

Fakir D’oudairies won over hurdles at Cheltenham
Fakir D’oudairies won over hurdles at Cheltenham (David Davies/PA)

“He’s been a fantastic horse for us and has shown a liking for Cheltenham in the past – winning a Grade Two juvenile hurdle, finishing fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and second in the Arkle Challenge Trophy,” he told Betfair.

“He looked better than ever on his latest start when second to Chacun Pour Soi in the Dublin Chase.

“We have always thought that mid-range trips such as this would suit him, and we are really looking forward to seeing what he can do over it. It looks a wide-open race, and I hope he will run a big one.”

Townend chooses title-holder Min in Ryanair

Paul Townend has sided with last year’s winner Min over Allaho in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham – for which there are 14 declarations.

Allaho, who will be ridden by Rachael Blackmore on Thursday, has been ante-post favourite since winning a Grade Two at Thurles last time out – but Townend will partner his tried-and-trusted Willie Mullins-trained stablemate.

Mullins also runs Melon, who has finished second at the Festival four years in succession. He will be ridden by Bryan Cooper, with Danny Mullins on a fourth Closutton contender Tornado Flyer.

Saint Calvados was only a neck behind Min 12 months ago, and is back once more for Harry Whittington and Gavin Sheehan.

Kim Bailey’s Imperial Aura won at the meeting last season and began his season in great style, winning at Carlisle and Ascot, but has been absent since an early departure at Kempton.

Dashel Drasher was a popular winner of the Ascot Chase for Jeremy Scott and Matt Griffiths, and will aim to add another Grade One to his tally.

Samcro, a dual Festival winner, needs to bounce back to his best for Denise Foster – while Chris’s Dream represents Henry de Bromhead.

Fakir D’oudairies (Joseph O’Brien), Fanion D’Estruval (Venetia Williams), Kalashnikov (Amy Murphy), Mister Fisher (Nicky Henderson) and Real Steel (Paul Nicholls) have all been declared too.

Defending champion Min heads Mullins’ team in Ryanair reckoning

Willie Mullins appears to hold the key to the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham on Thursday with at least three leading candidates in Allaho, Min and Melon following the confirmation stage.

That trio was among six left in by the Closutton trainer after there were 16 acceptors.

Min took the Grade One honours 12 months ago, but he has to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Dublin Chase after making a winning seasonal debut in the John Durkan.

Melon could try to end a run of four second places at the last four Festivals, having played second fiddle in the Supreme, the Champion Hurdle twice and the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

Allaho staked his claim when winning a Grade Two contest at Thurles in January. He was third in the RSA Novices’ Chase last year and third in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2019.

Chacun Pour Soir remains in the Ryanair but is set to go for the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday, for which he is a short-priced favourite. Cilaos Emery and Tornado Flyer are Mullins’ other possibles.

Dual Festival winner Samcro, who is with Denise Foster while Gordon Elliott serves his suspension, is also in the line up, while Henry de Bromhead’s Chris’s Dream and Fakir D’Oudairies from Joseph O’Brien’s yard complete the Irish interest.

Leading the home defence is Kim Bailey’s Imperial Aura, a winner at the Festival last year. However, he blotted his copybook at Kempton last time when unseating his rider at the second fence.

Jeremy Scott has left in Betfair Ascot Chase victor Dashel Drasher while Nicky Henderson’s Peterborough Chase scorer Mister Fisher and Saint Calvados, runner-up in this race last year, are among others in the mix.

Min tops 50 contenders for Ryanair Chase gold

Last year’s winner Min is one of 50 entries for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Having previously chased home Altior in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Willie Mullins-trained Min finally enjoyed his day in the sun at the showpiece meeting 12 months ago.

Having kicked off the current campaign by winning his third John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, the 10-year-old is the ante-post favourite to successfully defend his Ryanair crown and become just the second dual winner after Albertas Run (2010 and 2011).

An 11-strong Mullins contingent also includes Allaho, Chacun Pour Soi, Kemboy, Melon and Tornado Flyer, although several have alternative engagements in one or both of the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Other contenders for the Ryanair include last year’s runner-up Saint Calvados, trained by Harry Whittington, Henry de Bromhead’s Savills Chase winner A Plus Tard, Nicky Henderson’s superstar chaser Altior and Kim Bailey’s Imperial Aura, who is set to run in the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton this weekend.

Bailey said: “Imperial Aura is in good form and he runs on Saturday – that race is essentially his prep run for the Cheltenham Festival, where he will hopefully line up in the Ryanair Chase.

“He won at the Festival last year and I have been delighted with his performances so far this year.

“I am very happy with him and Saturday should hopefully tell us more, but Cheltenham is definitely a target for him.”

Amy Murphy is considering multiple options for Kalashnikov ahead of a likely tilt at the Ryanair.

Having shaped with promise when seventh on his reappearance over hurdles at Haydock, Murphy’s stable star was a well-backed favourite for the rescheduled Peterborough Chase at Cheltenham last month and emerged with plenty of credit in finishing second to Mister Fisher.

She said: “Kalashnikov in great form. He’s been in very light work since Cheltenham – we haven’t done a lot with him at all.

“We’ve freshened him up. He’s received an entry in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival and he’ll have one more run between now and then.

“I’ve put him in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, there’s Newbury in mid-February and Warwick in mid-February as well, so he’s got a few different options.”

Delight for Willie Mullins as Min and Chacun Pour Soi make perfect returns

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.

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.”

Mighty Min secures famous John Durkan hat-trick

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.

Patrick Mullins returns victorious aboard Min
Patrick Mullins returns victorious aboard Min (Brian Lawless/PA)

“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.

Min faces strong opposition in John Durkan hat-trick bid

Min is set to face seven rivals in his bid for a record third victory in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on Sunday.

The Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old joined the likes of Native Upmanship and Djakadam as a dual winner 12 months ago – and will be well fancied to complete the hat-trick on his first start since winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Owned by Rich Ricci, his racing manager Joe Chambers told the Nick Luck Daily Podcast: “He’s in good form, he got his Cheltenham Festival victory in the Ryanair last year and he would probably have gone on to Aintree.

“He’s going for his third John Durkan in a row. He blew up badly at the back of the last 12 months ago when it was a bit of a howling gale and he did throw some ‘wahoo’ leaps in.

“We’re hoping he’ll run well, for all that it will be a tough race as Willie has declared Allaho and Melon as well along with Tornado Flyer and then there’s Samcro, Battleoverdoyen and Le Richebourg – it’s a good field.

“Some of them have race fitness on their side so it’s going to be a real test of where he’s at.”

Min is one of four runners for the champion trainer, who is bidding to equal Jim Dreaper’s haul of seven victories.

Mullins also saddles Melon, last seen filling the runner-up spot at Cheltenham for the fourth time when beaten a nose by Samcro in the Marsh Novices’ Chase, as well as RSA Chase third Allaho and Tornado Flyer.

There was little between Samcro (left) and Melon at Cheltenham
There was little between Samcro (left) and Melon at Cheltenham (Tim Goode/PA)

Melon is set to renew rivalry with Samcro, who will be expected to improve from his comeback third at Down Royal last month. His Down Royal conqueror and stablemate Battleoverdoyen is again in opposition.

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Chris’s Dream bids to go one better than when mowed down late by The Storyteller in Down Royal’s Ladbrokes Champion Chase.

A quality Grade One field is completed by Joseph O’Brien’s Le Richebourg, who makes his first competitive appearance since winning for the fourth time in five starts over fences in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown in February of last year.

Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: “He’s been off a long time with a leg injury. Joseph is happy with him. It’s a hot enough race to get him started, but we don’t have many choices where to go so it will be nice to see him out.

“He’s been back in training a good while and he’s up for the run now.”

Chacun Pour Soi won at the Dublin Racing Festival but was a late Cheltenham absentee
Chacun Pour Soi won at the Dublin Racing Festival but was a late Cheltenham absentee (PA Wire)

It promises to be another big afternoon for the Mullins team, with the Closutton maestro sending his star two miler Chacun Pour Soi to Cork for the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase – a Grade Two prize he has already plundered on 10 occasions.

The eight-year-old will undoubtedly be a warm order to score on his first start since beating Min at the Dublin Racing Festival in February, with an 11th-hour setback having ruled him out of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

Mullins is doubly represented, with Cash Back also one of seven declared.

Min on course to bid for John Durkan hat-trick

Hat-trick seeker Min heads 11 in contention for the John Durkan Punchestown Memorial Chase.

Willie Mullins’ nine-year-old has bagged Sunday’s two-and-a-half-mile feature on his seasonal bow in each of the last two campaigns.

Min, winner of the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on his last start back in March, is one of five entries for Mullins – along with fellow Rich Ricci-owned runner Chacun Pour Soi, who proved too good in the Dublin Chase last term before having to sidestep Cheltenham.

The Cheveley Park-owned Allaho, third in the RSA Chase in March, is another Mullins possible – as well as narrow Marsh Novices’ Chase second Melon and Tornado Flyer, who was fifth in that race and already has a run under his belt this term.

Samcro emerged victorious in the Marsh for Gordon Elliott – and the much-touted eight-year-old is in this weekend’s potential field following his third place behind re-opposing stablemate Battleoverdoyen at Down Royal.

Joseph O’Brien could also be double-handed with dual Grade One-winning novice Le Richebourg a possible to have his first start since February 2019, while stablemate Mortal has already run five times this season.

Also in the line-up is the Henry de Bromhead-trained Chris’s Dream, who was edged into second in Down Royal’s Champion Chase on his return – a race in which another possible contender, Noel Meade’s Tout Est Permis, finished third.

Allaho, Chacun Pour Soi, Le Richebourg and Melon all have an alternative entry on Sunday in Cork’s Grade Two Kerry Group Hilly Way Steeplechase, over an extended two miles.