Willie Mullins primed to add to Mares’ Hurdle tally

Vroum Vroum Mag will bid to continue her seemingly unstoppable rise through the ranks by landing a first Grade One success and enhancing Willie Mullins’ enviable record in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham today.
Willie Mullins primed to add to Mares’ Hurdle tally

Since the inception of the two-and-a-half-mile prize in 2008 the Closutton handler has claimed it a staggering seven times, with only the inaugural running of the prize failing to go his way.

While it is unlikely the seven-year-old will ever match Quevega’s six straight wins, a bold bid looks forecast to give Mullins, who also saddles Gitane Du Berlais, an eighth triumph along with atoning for owner Rich Ricci’s near miss 12 months ago after suffering the anguish of Annie Power falling at the last with the race at her mercy.

Mullins, who still won last year’s renewal thanks to Glens Melody, said: “I’m very, very happy with Vroum Vroum Mag, she’s in tip-top form.

“She has run in the races that have been there for her. I don’t have any problem racing the geldings, but the programme of races was there and they were nice races.

“I have been taken with her performances from a visual perspective, rather than what she has beaten.

“She just goes along nicely before Ruby (Walsh) changes hands and she picks up two gears. I think she is a very good mare. You would have slight concerns about quicker ground for her but the ground is always safe at Cheltenham.”

Last year’s runner-up Polly Peachum will attempt to go one better in what is likely to be her final race before heading off to stud.

Although turned over at odds-on her return to action at Kempton in November the eight-year-old showed she is still a force to be reckoned with against her own sex when ploughing through the mud at Sandown to claim her fourth win at Listed level.

Trainer Nicky Henderson said: “She’s in very, very good order, couldn’t be better in fact. She did her last piece of work last Tuesday so let’s hope for the best in what will almost definitely be her last race before going to the paddocks.”

Another to return for a second crack is last year’s third Bitofapuzzle who reverts back to hurdles for the first time since landing a Grade One at Fairyhouse last April after an indifferent campaign over fences.

Despite winning her first start over larger obstacle at Exeter the wheels have since fallen off for the eight-year-old, one of two runners in the race for trainer Harry Fry alongside Desert Queen, having failed to complete both her subsequent outings over them.

Fry said: “Things have not quite gone to plan over fences for Bitofapuzzle so we have brought her back over hurdles.

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