Min and Ruby Walsh in his hurdling days
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
By Brian Sheerin 7:55AM 27 NOV 2016
THE maiden chase at Navan today, while unprepossessing on the outside, has provided racegoers first glimpses of subsequent Willie Mullins-trained stars in recent times, as both Vautour and Douvan have landed the prize in the last two years.
Mullins relies on Min this year, who is making his eagerly anticipated debut over fences and the Rich Ricci-owned gelding is already as short as 6-1 with most firms for the Arkle at Cheltenham.
Sent off favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last season after arriving at Cheltenham on the back of two solid wins and much hype, the Walk In The Park gelding found only Altior seven lengths too strong.
That was the five-year-old’s final start last term and he faces 16 rivals as he bids to make it a four-timer for Mullins and Ruby Walsh in today’s beginners’ chase.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Edwulf is one of six JP McManus-owned challengers alongside: A Great View, Cillian’s Return, Henry Higgins, Squouateur and William Du Berlais.
Gigginstown House Stud will be represented by the former Mullins-trained Fire In Soul, who makes his chase debut for Henry de Bromhead.
Speaking to the Racing Post ahead of Min’s chasing debut, the champion trainer said: “He has schooled nicely and has matured well over the summer. Last year he looked big and raw, but some of the Walk In The Park’s are like that. I think he’s got very strong and looks more the finished article now.”
Patrick Mullins is similarly excited about what the season may have in store for Min, and said: “We have been very happy with his schooling at home. He is a very tall leggy horse so hopefully chasing might bring about improvement in him, and if it does, he is obviously very exciting.”