Those whose job is to get as much publicity as possible for their respective firms have been in full flow this week. It has taken a fair bit of swallowing.
Liam Glynn, of Boylesports, for instance, was quoted as saying: “Punters cannot get enough of Min and he is a big five-figure loser in the book for the firm and that continues to grow on a daily basis.”
Hayley O’Connor of Ladbrokes did even better than that, however, and her widely distributed email is worth repeating.
“Punters will be running out of safe places to put their Min betting slips at this rate. Min-mania is rife and showing no sign of slowing.”
Ah yes, nothing like a bit of hype.
So who are those mysterious people who have been busy running around the place like headless chickens taking every price available about Min for a race that is not on until March 15?
The best offer about the horse for Cheltenham this week was 6-4.
That is just ridiculous and anyone tempted to play might give some consideration to taking up knitting as an alternative source of possible income.
Don’t interpret this as criticism of the representatives of bookmakers, who are only doing their job.
They will use, as they are entitled to do, every avenue to get their message out there and that is fine.
But they frequently get an easy ride, especially by some television interviewers, when the waffle foisted on an unsuspecting public often has the capacity to have you reaching for the sick bucket.
Min is currently being lumped in with Vautour and Douvan, who won the last two runnings of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for Mullins.
Min may be in that league, but both of those horses carried far strong credentials to the festival and neither was as a short as 6-4, or Ladbrokes’ 5-4 this week, on the day.
Let’s start with Vautour. When facing the starter for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, he had a lot to recommend him.
He won a well contested maiden hurdle at Navan, scrambled home in a Grade Two at Punchestown, but then revealed his true colours in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown, a Grade One, on his final outing prior to Cheltenham.
The Tullow Tank, regarded as the best novice in Ireland at that stage, went off an odds-on favourite, but Vautour slammed him by three lengths. Vautour’s returned price at Cheltenham was 7-2.
Last year Douvan produced two cracking efforts before Cheltenham. He had already won over flights in France and so started off by thrashing Sizing John by 12 lengths at Gowran Park in a novice hurdle.
Then he took a Grade Two at Punchestown, the same one as Vautour and Min, by an easy three and three parts of a length from Alphaas Des Obeaux.
Now say what you like about Alpha Des Obeaux, but he is a far better horse than anything tackled thus far by Min.
Douvan’s returned price at Cheltenham was 2-1.
On what we have seen so far, Min may well be a flying machine, but there are sufficient doubts to stop one from getting involved at this stage of the proceedings.
Min was beaten in both his races in France, at Auteuil, before making his Irish debut at Punchestown in early December, beating a winning pointer of Robert Tyner’s, Gurteen, by 14 lengths.
Gurteen gave the form a minor boost when taking a bumper at Leopardstown at Christmas and, you’d imagine, was a fair way from fully wound up when tackling Min.
Then Min reappeared in that Grade Two at Punchestown last Saturday and strolled to victory. Now the fact it was a Grade Two was misleading, it wasn’t even a Grade Three and essentially a ‘winners of one.’
He had only four opponents and two of them were complete no hopers. That left Min to beat Attribution and Ball D’Arc and I would have no hesitation in saying that neither of his immediate victims even merit an entry at Cheltenham.
In his outings in Ireland Min has, at least during part of the races, literally run away with Ruby Wash and that is not easily achieved.
Such behaviour at Cheltenham will be a massive minus.
The other thing, of course, that the mystery punters have to factor in is the possibility of Min not even making the meeting.
If you are one of those who has been ‘running around’ to get on then every morning between now and the festival will be a worry.
The first rule of ante-post betting is value.
If you are backing a horse many, many weeks, or even months, in advance then the chance is only worth taking if the price is way bigger than you envisage it being on the day of the race.
The bookmakers this week would have you believe that punters have been falling over themselves to get on Min at prices that were comical.
Come the morning of March 15, when we might know plenty about the way he is working and the manner in which he’s settling, we may want to be with the horse big-time. But in the middle of January?
Don’t make me laugh, not least for a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle that, to my eyes, seems to house a fair bit of depth.