Beach storms to Royal Bond glory
Airlie Beach made just about all the running to maintain her unbeaten record and beat the boys in the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Danny Mullins riding Airlie Beach clear the last to win the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse
Seen as perhaps the third string from Willie Mullins' yard with Ruby Walsh on Penhill and Paul Townend on Saturnas, the six-year-old ran out a clear-cut winner.
Pestered for the early lead by Le Martalin, she had seen him off by the second-last but the favourite Peace News was just coming to make his challenge when he came down, giving Bryan Cooper another nasty spill.
He in turn interfered with Forge Meadow and Penhill, leaving Airlie Beach clear in front.
Airlie Beach (4/1) took her record to seven from seven and came home six and a half lengths clear of stablemate Saturnas under Danny Mullins to provide owners Supreme Horse Racing Club with a first Grade One win.
Gordon Elliott's Labaik once again refused to race.
The winning rider said: "I spoke to my agent Ken Whelan last night and I told him I was a little bit confident this one would run well.
"It worked out well. The winning of it was probably being able to get a breather before the third-last. Once I took the second-last well I knew I wouldn't stop and it would take a very good one to beat me.
"Sean Flanagan (Le Martalin) took me on early, but both of us knew we couldn't keep that up so we steadied and quickened again."
Mullins said: "She jumped really well compared to my other two. Plan A worked for her anyway.
"We planned to jump off up there and take the race by the scruff of the neck, which she did, and she's a mare that keeps improving.
"I never dreamt that she'd be a Grade One mare. It's an extraordinary result for her and for Supreme Racing. She's a fantastic jumper and gallops all day."
Sky Bet cut the winner to 4/1 from 8/1 for the Mares' Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham and Michael Shinners said: "There's obviously a little bit of doubt over where this mare may end up come the Festival, but there appeared no fluke about her win and Mullins has won the race with some cracking novices in the past. She'd obviously be a massive player in the mares' race for novices at Cheltenham."
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