Augusta Kate upsets Let's Dance to land Grade One spoils for celebrity connections
Augusta Kate upset stable companion Let's Dance to lead home a Willie Mullins-trained one-two in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse.
After falling at the last when giving Death Duty a race in a Naas Grade One, the six-year-old was fancied for the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham, but could only manage sixth, albeit doing some notable late work.
In contrast, Let's Dance struck at the Festival in the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle and was odds-on to follow up.
All appeared to be going to plan when she took the lead off another Mullins runner Airlie Beach two out but Augusta Kate was in her slipstream and although landing awkwardly over the last, the 8-1 chance found more for David Mullins on the run-in to edge Ruby Walsh and Let's Dance by half a length.
The winning rider said: "She's very tough and unassuming. She was on and off it (bridle) and wasn't jumping the best out of the whole group, I thought. As soon as I gave her a squeeze after the third-last she jostled for a bit of position and came alive under me.
"I kind of knew I had her (Let's Dance) beat but I wasn't sure after the jump. She gave herself a bit of a fright in Cheltenham. She was cleverer than me today anyway. She really stays and goodness knows what is left in her still."
The winner has celebrity connections, being part-owned by Alan Shearer, Lee Westwood and Ant and Dec as part of The Masters Syndicate which was organised by Graham Wylie.
Mullins said: "She wasn't happy with the gear we had on her at Cheltenham. We took off the chifney (bit) and ear plugs and it seems to have suited her a lot better. She flattened the last and doesn't know how to jump at that speed and still picked up.
"She's improved a lot and hopefully there is more to come. We'll see how they come out of that before deciding about Punchestown. She probably learned from Cheltenham and maybe that is a better trip for her.
"Let's Dance came to win her race and had no real excuses. She didn't seem as happy throughout the race as I would have hoped, but still came through with what looked a winning run."