Vroum Vroum Mag leads Mullins 1-2 in Christmas Hurdle
Vroum Vroum Mag: continued trainer Willie Mullins' great form
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos) Vroum Vroum Mag returns to winning ways By Mark Scully 1:55PM 28 DEC 2016
Report: Leopardstown, Wednesday
Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m | 5yo+
VROUM VROUM MAG led home a Willie Mullins one-two as jockey Ruby Walsh held off the gallant challenge of his sister Katie aboard Clondaw Warrior.
Mullins, who is enjoying a remarkable run of festive form, could even have had the 1-2-3 had the long-time leader Shaneshill not suffered a crashing fall at the final flight, by which time Vroum Vroum Mag had moved up imperiously.
Shaneshill was reported to be up, as was jockey Patrick Mullins, after the fall.
Vroum Vroum Mag, sent off the 8-15 favourite to bounce back from her sole defeat in the care of Mullins at Fairyhouse earlier this month, was left in front alone following Shaneshill's departure and did not see out the 3m trip in the most convincing fashion.
Pricewise selection Clondaw Warrior, part-owned by Ruby Walsh's wife Gillian, made up plenty of ground from off the pace but could manage to get only to within a length and a quarter at the line, after being sent off at odds of 8-1.
Third place went the way of Snow Falcon, a 5-1 chance, who travelled kindly enough in midfield throughout but never looked like troubling Vroum Vroum Mag.
'She can do anything'
Vroum Vroum Mag's delighted owner Rich Ricci paid tribute to horse, jockey and trainer following the win and revealed the race may not have even been on her radar but for setbacks for his other star performers.
"She's brilliant," he said. "The last day was tough, all credit to Apple's Jade, who is a tough mare but this mare, we thought she was special. We knew she'd come on for that run and it wasn't run to suit the last day but today Ruby was brilliant. She idled in front a bit but God, she was very good.
"She was quite keen, I thought. I was worried about the trip but she got it sure enough. I'm delighted, what can you say? We're very fortunate to have these horses and isn't Willie a genius?
"If we had had an uninterrupted run with Faugheen and Annie Power, she would probably have been running over fences this year. So I'm thinking of maybe going over fences later in the season when those two come back. She is an incredibly versatile mare."
On a Cheltenham Festival target for the rising eight-year-old, Ricci added: "She can do anything and it's great to have her in the yard because she's the super sub.
"She'll be entered in everything, we'll see how the other two are, we expect them to be both back – she could even be a Ryanair horse."
The immediate focus of bookmaker reaction was on festival targets over the smaller obstacles, with Paddy Power leaving Vroum Vroum Mag unchanged at 5-1 for the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle.
Coral, meanwhile, trimmed her from 5-2 into 2-1 to retain her OLBG Mares' Hurdle crown.
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