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Minsk 'a natural' ahead of debut

Dessie Hughes feels Minsk will have to go close to making a successful debut over timber at Fairyhouse on Saturday to justify his place in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

The Dalakhani gelding is a leading fancy for the four-year-old championship at Cheltenham at around 6-1 on the strength of his solid form on the Flat when trained by John Oxx.

His owner Barry Connell sent him to Hughes to be trained for a hurdling campaign after Minsk ran out an easy winner of the Irish Cesarewitch at the Curragh in October, and crunch time comes in the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle.

"I'd expect a good run from him. He has schooled well and looks a natural," Hughes told At The Races.

"He's able to fiddle a hurdle well and is good and quick when he meets one wrong. He's not stupid. I think he's going to be fit enough to do himself justice.

"He'd nearly have to win to justify that price. He looked a very good horse in the Cesarewitch and he looked quite good in the ladies race he won on quicker ground at the Curragh.

"For me I think he wants soft ground and I honestly think he'll go on heavy ground. I'd be hoping when he gets to Cheltenham there'd be a good cut in the ground."

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