Vroum peaks in Christmas
Vroum Vroum Mag won the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle under Ruby Walsh at Leopardstown on Wednesday.
Vroum Vroum Mag wins at Leopardstown
Walsh was always close to the pace set by Patrick Mullins and Shaneshill and the winner was going supremely well when they rounded the home turn into the straight.
Shaneshill crashed out at the last leaving Vroum Vroum Mag in front and, though she idled on the run-in, she had plenty in hand of stablemate Clondaw Warrior, ridden by Walsh's sister Katie.
Snow Falcon finished third.
Shaneshill was given an easy time of things at the head of affairs but the challengers mounted up coming out of the back straight.
Nicky Henderson's French recruit Kotkikova moved ominously into contention before weakening, while Snow Falcon was another to make ground from the rear.
However, none moved with as much menace as Vroum Vroum Mag, with Walsh happy once the race developed into something of a sprint.
She jumped to the head of affairs looking as if she would win easily, but the 8-15 favourite was made to work hard as Clondaw Warrior (8-1) showed he was not out of his depth in Grade One company.
Snow Falcon got going all too late in third for Noel Meade.
Owner Rich Ricci said: "She's great. The last day (runner-up in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle) was tough but all credit to Apple's Jade, who is a tough mare.
"We always thought this mare was special so while Vroum Vroum Mag was beaten fair and square, I knew she'd come on for the run.
"She idled a bit after the last and was quite keen early. I was worried about the trip but she got it.
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"She's special and Willie is a genius, we're very lucky to have these horses.
"If we'd had an uninterrupted run with Faugheen and Annie Power she'd probably have been back over fences this year, so she could go back over fences when the two big ones come back.
"Next year she could be a Gold Cup mare. We've always thought she was a staying mare – she can do anything.
"She'll be entered in everything in March, she could even be a Ryanair horse once the other two (Faugheen and Annie Power) come back.
"She's an incredibly versatile mare."
Mullins said: "She is some mare. She did something today that I've never seen her do before, she pulled too hard.
"She always falls asleep in her races and that's why I thought we'd have no problems going out to three miles with her so we'll have to see now where we go.
"She can go over any trip, she showed lots of pace. We came out of Kempton to come here but I'm just surprised that she took such a hold early on as that wouldn't be good if we were going to go down the stayers hurdle route but we'll have to see.
"She works with our Champion Hurdle horses, we know she stays three miles now, and she can go over hurdles and jump fences. She's the super sub in the Ricci team, and that's where she fits in. She's an extraordinary mare.
"Clondaw Warrior ran a fantastic race and Shaneshill was going well too.
"I think Patrick and himself just got their wires crossed going to the hurdle, Patrick, though, he'd put in a quick one and he actually caught the top of it.
"He looked to gallop away though and both he and Patrick look OK, thankfully."
Walsh said: "I denied the wife there, and my sister!
"Vroum Vroum Mag was very good. I suppose looking at it if you were giving Clondaw a chance, we'd have always thought Vroum Vroum was a good bit better than him.
"She ran out of my hands a little bit but she jumped super and she just pulled up (in front) when Patrick's horse fell.
"The fact that she ran out of my hands today and still won over three miles is testament to how good she is.
"If you look at her going to the last she was only doing a half-speed and I just didn't want to be left in front for too long because as soon as you commit her, she pulls up.
"After Patrick fell, she got idle and I didn't know what was coming but I could tell by Dessie Scahill's commentary there was something coming at me!
"She's just very idle in front, she started to pull herself up but I think when Katie got close she started to pull out again. She's won a Grade One over two miles, two-five and now over three so it's great to have a mare like her."
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