Mullins pays tribute after mares' hurdle heroine Vroum Vroum Mag is retired
Star mare Vroum Vroum Mag has been been retired, trainer Willie Mullins revealed on Wednesday.
The versatile nine-year-old, who won 14 of her 21 races, was missing from the list of acceptors for the OLBG Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday, and Mullins reported: "Vroum Vroum Mag hadn't been working well. She worked poorly yesterday and we've taken the decision to retire her."
Paying tribute to the three-time Grade 1-winning hurdler, Mullins added: "Vroum Vroum Mag was first and foremost a terrific jumper of hurdles and fences. She had the scope to do that. She stayed well but she surprised us with the speed she showed on occasions.
"She was an exceptional worker at home and in a race you could put her to sleep or make the running. She was able to win at Grade 1 level over two miles and three miles."
Owned by Rich and Susannah Ricci for most of her career, Vroum Vroum Mag won a bumper in France, seven hurdle races – including one in France – and six chases.
Last year, as if to underline her versatility in terms of obstacles and distance, she was entered at Cheltenham for the Gold Cup, Ryanair Chase, Champion Chase, Stayers' Hurdle, Champion Hurdle and Mares' Hurdle.
In the event, connections plumped for the Grade 1 Mares' Hurdle and she finished runner-up to Apple's Jade in a race she had won the year before.
Vroum Vroum Mag's annus mirabilis came the previous year as it contained all three of her Grade 1 wins. She followed up her Cheltenham Festival success by landing Punchestown's Champion Hurdle the following month, and Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown later in the year.
Ruby Walsh rode her to those three top-level triumphs and reflected: "She was a great mare. She was brilliant at Cheltenham and she was some mare to jump a fence as well.
"Winning the Mares' Hurdle, then dropping back to win the Grade 1 over two miles at Punchestown was an amazing achievement. She won over every distance and was a wonderful mare to ride. She had an attitude and was very versatile. It's a shame we didn't get her back this season as she was very high-class."
She was injured in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, in which she finished seventh, last spring, and that was to prove the final race of a decorated career during which she accrued £426,040 in win and place prize-money.
Vroum Vroum Mag will now start life as a broodmare, a calling which has been under consideration for a while.
Vroum Vroum Magic - the star mare's three Grade 1 strikes
March 15, 2016, Mares' Hurdle, Cheltenham
Vroum Vroum Mag was one of the Irish bankers going into the festival two years ago and didn't let down her backers, justifying odds-on favouritism under Ruby Walsh against 18 rivals. She travelled well, led before the last and went on to score by two and three-quarter lengths.
April 29, 2016, Champion Hurdle, Punchestown
She started 4-6 favourite six weeks after her Cheltenham victory for what was arguably a tougher-looking assignment in a field which included My Tent Or Yours and Identity Thief. However, she again got the job done under Walsh, winning by a length and a quarter.
December 28, 2016, Christmas Hurdle, Leopardstown
The mare was hot favourite to secure a Grade 1 hat-trick, starting at 8-15 against seven rivals, again with Walsh in the saddle, and once more she delivered, travelling well and then keeping her snapping stablemate Clondaw Warrior at bay close home to win by a length and a quarter.
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