Sunday 24 March 2019

Laurina oozes class to highlight Champion Hurdle credentials

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Laurina stamped her ticket for the Champion Hurdle in good style when Willie Mullins's exciting mare easily disposed of her five rivals in the Listed Quevega Mares' Hurdle at Punchestown yesterday.

Unchanged at 7/2 third favourite for the two-mile showpiece as a result of the six-length romp, Laurina (3/10 favourite) was never in any trouble under Ruby Walsh as she bounded clear of stablemate Stormy Ireland.

Champion trainer Mullins expects the six-year-old - now unbeaten in six starts since joining Mullins from France - to be a sharper horse in three weeks when tackling big-hitters Buveur D'Air and Apple's Jade.

"She took a good blow and Ruby said she needed it badly. That's job done and hopefully we'll get a clear run from now to Cheltenham. We'll have to sharpen her up over the next few weeks," Mullins said.

"The buzz and bustle of Cheltenham will really sharpen her up and for a Champion Hurdle she is going to have to be sharper. She looks every inch a mare that can go chasing, we'll see how she goes in the meantime."

Walsh was similarly impressed but is still in the dark about her ability, he said: "I don't know (how good she is). She's done everything asked of her and she deserves a crack at it, but Apple's Jade and Buveur D'Air are helluva good racehorses."

Attention is on Thurles today where Mullins's Harrie heads a competitive Grade Three Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle (3.05).

Meanwhile, David Marnane is double-handed in Meydan today with Alfredo Arcano hoping to bounce back when tackling the 6f handicap (3.05) under Ben Curtis, while Freescape has claims in the concluding handicap (5.25) with Billy Lee aboard.

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