Airlie Beach signs off in style for Willie Mullins
Airlie Beach rounded off her racing career in tremendous style with a typically game success in the Ardilaun Hotel Oyster Stakes at Galway.
The Willie Mullins-trained mare had won eight of her previous 13 starts including six races over hurdles – featuring the Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse – a bumper and most recently a first victory on the Flat at Tramore.
As she is in foal to Mount Nelson, this Listed event was to be her swansong and she went out in a blaze of glory in the hands at Pat Smullen.
A tardy start was not ideal, but title-chasing Smullen soon got her back on an even keel and she raced enthusiastically on the heels of the leaders.
Airlie Beach hit the front rounding the home turn and dug deep to see off the persistent challenge of Remarkable Lady by a length and a half.
Smullen said: "It's nothing short of a pleasure to ride such a good mare and for her to go out like that is a fairytale for all the connections.
"She is a typical one of Willie Mullins' and wants to go further than that trip and needed all of the hill.
"Every step she took up the hill she was devouring it and her stamina won out. She is a real quality mare and it's great she has gone out on a high."
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