Inside Track: Five things we learned from this weekend’s racing action

Min and Cilaos Emery announce their Cheltenham credentials again

Monday, December 09, 2019
Min John Durkan 2019

What a take-off for Paul Townend as Min wins the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown

There was more than a sense of the familiar to proceedings during a dramatic weekend of racing, writes Bradley West.

Min does it again

A huge leap at the last meant for the second successive year, no one could stop Min in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown.

Willie Mullins' eight-year-old, ridden by Paul Townend, held off Gordon Elliott’s Shattered Love 12 months ago and once again he did not have it all his own way over the 2m4f course.

This time round it was Elliott’s Hardline who made for a tense finish as Min was forced to have to battle back from behind - his huge final jump forcing a sharp intake from those watching.

Mullins will now get plotting and planning but the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham looks an attractive target, especially with the likely rivals looking more probable entries for the Champion Chase.

All eyes on Savills Chase after impressive return run

Presenting Percy owner Philip Reynolds was all smiles with a third place in the John Durkan as his horse’s return to the spotlight drew admiring glances.

Having been billed as the start of a road to redemption, another Cheltenham Gold Cup bid looks set to gather pace now for the hugely popular eighth-year-old after he delivered a hugely encouraging showing in just his seventh time jumping over fences.

The absence of regular jockey Davy Russell, who took ill moments before the race, threw another spanner into the works but Percy was calm throughout and Reynolds was quick to look towards Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

He said: “It was an encouraging run. He jumped the way we thought he'd jump – Percy jumps very well. Especially down the back straight he jumped well and was brilliant over a few of his fences.

“We're delighted and couldn't have asked for a better start to the season − we're over the moon. You'd have to be thinking about rolling on to the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.”


Un De Sceaux loses out in another thriller

It was déjà vu at Sandown.

After losing out to Altior in a thrilling clash at last year’s Tingle Creek Chase, Mullins’ 11-year-old suffered the same fate again as Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil emerged victorious in a dramatic battle.

In the hands of Townend it had appeared that Un De Sceaux had the measure of his rivals, beginning to break away after the final turn. However, the diminutive Defi Du Seuil, ridden by Barry Geraghty, has a big heart for a little horse and powered clear in the closing stages.

All of which will have been watched with close interest by Nicky Henderson, as he decides where to target speedy chaser Altior in the weeks ahead.

Cilaos Emery wins straight shootout at Cork

The Hilly Way Chase evoked the feeling of the Wild West in Cork on Sunday.

That’s because with over a mile to go in the contest, and with Us And Them a non-runner and Great Field departing early, there were just two left standing in the fight.

But, it was Ballyoisin who blinked first as Cilaos Emery rode by Danny Mullins won by seven lengths to remain unbeaten over fences.

What chance Cilaos Emery and Defi Du Seuil clashing over two miles at Prestbury Park?

Douvan set to spend more time on the sidelines

Having only just returned after nearly 600 days on the sidelines last month, Douvan has been ruled out of a scheduled appearance over Christmas.

After his classy win at Clonmel It had looked like he would be competing in two-mile grade one at Leopardstown but his name was not listed among the entries last week.

Mullins said: “Douvan didn't come out of his race well, but it's not the problem he had before. It's a back-end problem and he must have hit a fence. He's going to miss Christmas, but hopefully will be back after that."

I think he can jump way better than that and can improve from that run. He can go over two miles or two and a half.
- Willie Mullins surely ponders the Ryanair Chase after impressive win for Min

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