The sensational Min (6g Walk In The Park-Phemyka, by Saint Estephe) began his season on the brightest possible note when strolling home in a Gowran Park conditions chase on Saturday.
The Walk In The Park six-year-old has now won five of his six starts for trainer Willie Mullins, on Saturday finishing an amazing 36 lengths clear of Flaxen Flare in this 2m 4f contest.
“After the first he was dynamite everywhere – long and short whatever he wanted to do,” raved jockey Paul Townend. “He was very good and galloped right through to the line. It was as good as we hoped. He was impressive.”
Min is now a short price for both the G1 Queen Mother Champion Chase and G1 Ryanair Chase at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival and Mullins reported that his next start is likely to come at Leopardstown after Christmas.
“That was a tremendous return for Min and I thought his jumping was good and he was fresh and well,” said the champion trainer. “I loved the way he jumped and put himself right and while he didn’t have much opposition and had a lot of things his own way, he was still very good. We now know he goes two and a half miles and he wasn’t stopping either so it opens up a few more options.
“The G1 John Durkan is too soon and I’ll be looking at Christmas unless there’s a juicy one before that. Hopefully I’ll have a few more for the G1 Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown.”
On the same afternoon, Ben Pauling sent out Walk In The Park’s son Nestor Park (4g Walk In The Park-Cila, by Saint Preuil) to win an Ascot bumper.
Pauling holds the four-year-old in the highest regard and commented: “Nestor Park is a class horse and we will campaign him as one. There is the Listed bumper at the Betfair Hurdle meeting at Newbury and possibly Aintree. You saw today when he got into a battle that he digs in.”
Walk In The Park was also on the mark at Ascot the previous afternoon when the Robert Walford-trained Walk In The Mill (7g Walk In The Park-Libre Amour, by Lost World) won by seven lengths over fences.