Cheltenham Festival winning mare Vroum Vroum Mag lost her unbeaten record for Willie Mullins as she was downed by last season’s leading juvenile Apple’s Jade in the Grade One Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
The seven-year-old was last seen winning the Punchestown Champion Hurdle on the back of her success in the OLGB Mares Hurdle on day one of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. The Rich Ricci owned star was sent off as the odds-on favourite in a seven-runner renewal of the two-and-a-half-mile contest.
But it was a former Mullins inmate Apple’s Jade who claimed one of Ireland’s premier National Hunt races. The Gigginstown star was moved the Gordon Elliot yard, but failed to run up to her best form in her two runs for the new connections.
But under the tenacious Bryan Cooper, the four-year-old was back to her best, stepping up beyond two-miles for the first time in her career.
Coming up to the final hurdle the pair of mares were neck and neck, but despite her relative lack of experience Apple’s Jade showed her toughness to hold off Ruby Walsh and his mount on the run in.
After the race Elliot was full of praise for his newest stable star saying: “We said we would let her take her chance after that and, although I was under no pressure, it was great that it worked out. The mares’ hurdle at Cheltenham is going to be her Gold Cup. That’s her main aim. I’m not sure where she would run beforehand, there’s a couple of races around February time that we could take in prior to Cheltenham.”
Un De Sceaux takes Tingle Creek and enhances Cheltenham Festival claims
While Mullins will be disappointed with the result in the Hatton’s Grace, just 24-hours earlier he was celebrating another British Grade One success after Un De Sceaux took the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
Last season the bold, front running eight-year-old was sent off as the odds-on favourite for the Champion Chase, only to fall to the great Sprinter Sacre.
But under Ruby Walsh, the former Cheltenham Festival winner proved that his is maturing as he was dropped into the pack while Ar Mad made the running.
As the field turned for home Un De Sceaux and Sire De Grugy (two-time Tingle Creek winner) were locked to together, but a couple of sloppy jumps seemed to end the chances for the Mullins charge.
But Walsh galvanised his mount up the run in and he just held off the challenge of the ultra-brave Sire De Grugy.
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