The champion coach held a formidable hand on this two-mile contest on the affirmation stage, with Min joined by esteemed stablemate Footpad.
The latter was the undoubted star of the two-mile novice division final season, profitable every of his 5 begins together with the Irish Arkle on this corresponding card 12 months in the past and the Arkle Trophy on the Cheltenham Competition in March.
His popularity has been considerably dented this time period as he fell and was injured at Naas earlier than struggling a shock – albeit slim – defeat over Christmas, however he was however rated the most important menace to Min by the bookmakers.
Nonetheless, he didn’t characteristic among the many declarations on Friday morning and Min will nearly actually be odds-on to repeat his victory of 12 months in the past after making a profitable reappearance within the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in December.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, mentioned: “Footpad is not injured. Willie simply felt Min was in higher type so determined to go together with him. Min gained this race nicely final 12 months, so we all know he likes the journey and monitor. We have been proud of him at residence and he needs to be very exhausting to beat.”
It was the Nicky Richards-trained veteran Merely Ned who mowed down Footpad in December and the 12-year-old has as soon as once more made the journey throughout the Irish Sea.
That newest triumph was his second at Leopardstown and he has by no means completed out of the primary three in six visits to the Dublin circuit – together with a runner-up end behind Min on this race a 12 months in the past.
Richards mentioned: “What I all the time say is he’ll typically beat extra horses than beat him. He is in excellent type. He had just a little canter on the monitor on Thursday morning and the lad who takes care of him says he is in a minimum of nearly as good a type as he was there over Christmas.
“There are some high horses in there and it is a correct Grade One – we’re beneath no illusions about that. Hopefully he’ll run one other stable race.”
Merely Ned after his Leopardstown win
Merely Ned is one in all two British-trained runners together with Harry Whittington’s steady star Saint Calvados.
He already had the measure of Footpad when profitable at Naas in November and was final seen ending third behind Altior and Un De Sceaux within the Tingle Creek at rain-lashed Sandown.
Whittington mentioned: “He is all set to go. It appears a troublesome contest, however we’re proud of our horse and together with his ranking these are the type of races he must run in.
“It is a left-handed monitor on higher floor, which we now suppose fits him higher. He is good and recent after having a break because the Tingle Creek. We’re very proud of him going into the race. He had the beating of Footpad at Naas and if he can run an analogous race to that – or possibly even enhance a bit – he needs to be there or thereabouts.”
Castlegrace Paddy was fourth behind Merely Ned and Footpad in December and renews rivalry with the previous.
Coach Pat Fahy mentioned: “I would wish to see the bottom lots softer in a really perfect world as Davy (Russell) felt he wasn’t letting himself down on the bottom over Christmas. He wasn’t actually letting fly at his fences and was simply being a bit cautious. There may be some rain round so hopefully the bottom can be just a little bit simpler and we’ll see how we go. I believe he is simply extra in his consolation zone on softer floor. The way in which he stayed on to be overwhelmed solely 5 and a half lengths would offer you hope.”
Henry de Bromhead’s pair of Abnormal World and Particular Tiara full the six-strong subject.