Airlie Beach runs at Gowran
Airlie Beach puts her unbeaten record on the line in the Pat Walsh Memorial European Breeders Fund Mares Hurdle at Gowran Park on Friday.
Ruby Walsh: Rides Airlie Beach at Gowran on Friday.
The daughter of Shantou looked another high-class mare for Willie Mullins when making a successful debut in a Kilbeggan bumper in August of last year and while that proved to be her only start of 2015, she has appeared intent on making up for lost time this summer.
She returned to County Westmeath to make a successful debut over hurdles in July and completed a course hat-trick in August before bolting up at Galway earlier this month.
The six-year-old steps up to Listed class for her latest assignment and faces eight opponents, including last year's winner and stable companion Daisy's Gift.
Steve Massey, racing manager for owners Supreme Horse Racing, said: "She's in good order and improved to win at Galway the last day.
"She'll need to improve again to keep her unbeaten tag as she's up against more experienced horses, including last year's winner.
"We are hopeful she will step up and get some black type.
"It's great to have a mare who is four from four, so let's hope she continues her improvement."
Airlie Beach's flying start is perhaps slightly surprising given she gave birth to a foal before commencing her racing career.
The quirky tale goes that she was covered by Miguel Angel, who was purchased by Mullins in France as a yearling.
With connections believing he had been gelded, he spent some time in the field in the early part of his two-year-old year along with some mares, including Airlie Beach.
Shortly afterwards came the shock news that the mare was in foal and the offspring, now a three-year-old, is in training with Mullins.
Miguel Angel won over hurdles at Tramore in June.
Stable jockey Ruby Walsh has opted to ride Airlie Beach ahead of Daisy's Gift, who returns to hurdling following an unsuccessful two-race stint over fences.
Jessica Harrington saddles Flaviana, Msmilan and Billy's Hope, while Willie Austin's recent Listowel scorer Emcon also features.
Listed honours are also up for grabs in the concluding Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Mucklemeg Mares Flat Race.
The Mullins-trained Queen Deirdre is one of a host of previous winners in contention.
Charlie Longsdon's Snow Leopardess and Seelateralligator both make the journey from Britain to contest the two-mile heat.
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