Airlie goes direct to Cheltenham

Unbeaten novice hurdler Airlie Beach is set to head straight to the Cheltenham Festival without another run.

Airlie Beach is set to head straight to Cheltenham

The Willie Mullins-trained mare secured her seventh successive victory with a tremendous front-running display in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in early December, providing the Supreme Horse Racing Club with its first Grade One success.

The seven-year-old has since enjoyed a mid-season break and while she holds an entry in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown on February 12, she is likely to bypass that engagement and instead make her next appearance at Prestbury Park in March.

Steve Massey, racing manager for the owners, said: "She had a hard race in the Royal Bond, so we gave her a break and she's come back in very good order.

"She's obviously done fantastically well for us already and at this stage, we don't want her to have another hard race before Cheltenham, so the plan is to head straight there.

"We know Willie is more than capable of getting her ready at home and hopefully she'll head to Cheltenham with a big chance."

Airlie Beach is a best priced 7/2 favourite for the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle and as short as 10/1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Massey expects the daughter of Shantou to line up in the former, but will leave a final decision to the trainer.

"She's 7/2 favourite for one race and I think you can get 16/1 for the Supreme," said Massey.

"The mares' novice hurdle would look the obvious race, but she's already entered in the open Mares' Hurdle as well and I'd imagine she'll be entered for every race she's eligible for.

"We always leave it to Willie to decide which race they should run in and he'll run her in the race he feels she's got the best chance of winning."

Read More at Sporting Life

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