Ruby Walsh to ride Limini over Vroum Vroum Mag in Cheltenham
Ruby Walsh has sided with Limini over Vroum Vroum Mag in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.
Willie Mullins has won eight of the nine runnings of the two-and-a-half-mile contest, with the remarkable Quevega landing six consecutive renewals before Glens Melody and Vroum Vroum Mag struck gold in the last two years.
Mullins has kept his cards close to his chest regarding running plans for this year's renewal and his decision to let his two star mares do battle must go down as a surprise.
Connections considered supplementing Limini for the Champion Hurdle following an impressive comeback victory over Apple's Jade at Punchestown last month before eventually deciding to let her take on her own sex at Prestbury Park.
That decision led many to believe Vroum Vroum Mag could contest the Champion Hurdle herself, while she also holds entries in the Champion Chase, the Ryanair Chase and the Stayers' Hurdle.
However, she is set to take on her stable companion and defend her Mares' Hurdle crown in the hands of Paul Townend.
Apple's Jade appears the biggest threat to the Mullins-trained pair. A former Mullins inmate herself before joining Gordon Elliott, the five-year-old touched off Vroum Vroum Mag in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December before finding Limini too strong.
Gavin Cromwell's dual Grade One winner Jer's Girl and last year's runner-up Rock On The Moor, trained by Jessica Harrington, complete the formidable Irish challenge.
The home team includes the Paul Nicholls-trained Lifeboat Mona and Colin's Sister from Fergal O'Brien's yard.