the PROSPECT of motherhood is doing no harm to Voler La Vedette on the evidence of yesterday's Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle at Fairyhouse, where she showed guts to edge out Blackstairmountain.
Kept fresh by Colm Murphy, she sidestepped a clash with Quevega at Cheltenham and travelled sweetly to the front for Andrew Lynch with a quarter of a mile to run.
However, Ruby Walsh had tracked her every move on Blackstairmountain and a good leap at the last saw Willie Mullins' charge seemingly put the race to bed. Unfortunately for his connections, the six-year-old pulled himself up in front -- just as he had done at this meeting 12 months ago when reeled in by Luska Lad.
Murphy's 11/8 favourite was so much on top close to home that she won by a length and a half, with Oscar Dan Dan in third.
Murphy said: "I'm delighted with her, she's got plenty of class and I'd imagine we'll go to Punchestown.
"She's in the three-mile and the two-mile but I imagine the three-mile looks the obvious one. She's hopefully in foal to Presenting, but she'll be scanned in the morning.
"If she's not in foal there is a possibility she could race on next year, but she's a valuable broodmare."
Noel Meade's Prima Vista bridged the gap between handicaps and Graded company when winning the Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Novice Hurdle. Walsh set out to make all of the running on Dare To Doubt, but Davy Russell was intent on not letting him get too far clear aboard Rathlin.
Rathlin appeared to have his measure until he demolished the final hurdle, which paved the way for Paul Carberry to bring home Prima Vista, sent off favourite for the MCR Hurdle, by a length and three-quarters.
"I kept this here in mind all season for him," Meade said. "He was unlucky in the MCR Hurdle when he got trapped and then was out wide. If he comes out of this okay he'll go for one of the Grade Ones at Punchestown."
Danny Mullins produced Marlay Park with a well-timed run to hold off Kerb Appeal in the staying handicap hurdle. The finish was a real Mullins affair as Danny was riding for his mother, Mags, and Kerb Appeal is trained by Willie.
There were a whole host in with chances at the second-last flight, but Marlay Park could be spotted travelling ominously well. A good jump at the last sealed the deal and he went on to score by two lengths.
Simonsig looks a terrific prospect for trainer Ian Ferguson after winning in the Champion Point-To-Point Bumper. A winner of two of his three previous points -- he fell when going well in the other -- jockey Chris Cully had no option but to take up the running turning into the straight as he was travelling so well.
The 11/4 favourite idled a little inside the final furlong but he was so far clear it made no difference as he coasted home to beat Kandinski by 13 lengths. Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary offered to purchase the winner for €100,000, but owner Ronnie Bartlett turned down the bid.