MIN showed admirable battling qualities to make a winning return to action in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase at the Naas track.
Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old was short of room approaching the second-last fence, but he answered Ruby Walsh’s call by bravely going through the tight gap to hit the front before the last.
The even-money favourite jumped it cleanly and galloped on resolutely to beat the Gordon Elliott-trained Shattered Love by a length and a half in the two-and-a-half-mile feature.
Another Elliott inmate, The Storyteller, was third, with long-time leader Balko Des Flos fourth and Edwulf last of the five runners.
Mullins said: “Ruby was maybe a bit bold there, but he had to do what he had to do. It was good and the horse responded. He jumped brilliantly and I was very pleased with that.
“I don’t mind going back to two at all, he pulled very hard in behind there today, and he has the speed for two.
“He’ll probably go back in trip for Christmas, but we’ll see what we have in his division.
“We have Un De Sceaux there and Great Field so we could try to keep this fellow at a longer trip and try to find races for him.
“It didn’t look like he was stopping today, but it was a very slow-run race, I thought, and he was very keen in behind, but I liked the way he jumped even though he was keen.
“I’m not looking to go out to three miles with him, to be honest.”
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