Ricci calls on Mag in star-studded field
Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle | Grade 1 | 2m4f | ATR
The wait to see Champion Hurdle winners Faugheen and Annie Power continues, but racing fans do at least get their first glimpse of Vroum Vroum Mag this season in the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle.
In the role of super sub she delivered the goods when called upon in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle last season, holding off Identity Thief and Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours.
Rich Ricci's star mare is unbeaten in ten starts since joining Mullins and scored at the Cheltenham Festival when breezing to victory in the Mares' Hurdle.
Mullins is also represented by the Andrea and Graham Wylie-owned Shaneshill and Punchestown Mares' Champion Hurdle winner Whiteout.
A late decision will be made by Gordon Elliott on the participation of last week's Fighting Fifth runner-up Apple's Jade.
The former Mullins-trained mare obliterated her four-year-old counterparts at Aintree and then Punchestown last season, and while she is reported to be in rude health following an unlucky second at Newcastle last week, the ground remains a worry as she prefers softer conditions.
Noel Meade has decided to to bring Monksland back over hurdles while Joseph O'Brien lets last season's Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov take his chance.
Champion Hurdle clues
The Hatton's Grace Hurdle has proved to be an informative guide towards the Champion Hurdle. Jezki landed this race in 2013 before winning the Champion Hurdle that season and Hurricane Fly won here in 2010 before landing the first of his two Champion Hurdle titles.
A race for favourites
Favourites have a good record in this. Since 2000 there have been nine winning favourites and the biggest priced winner of the race since then was 11-2 (Oscar Dan Dan in 2009).
What they say
Willie Mullins, trainer of Vroum Vroum Mag, Shaneshill and Whiteout
Vroum Vroum Mag has not been beaten in ten starts for us and she'll be having her first run since dropping to two miles and winning the Punchestown Champion Hurdle at the end of last season. She seems to be in good form and has proven herself versatile in terms of distance. Shaneshill seemed to need the run at Navan last month when he finished third in the Lismullen Hurdle. That run should have brought him on, and if it has, he should be competitive. Whiteout is our third runner in the race and hopefully she can be in the money.
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Dedigout and Apple's Jade
The ground would be a worry for Dedigout as he would like it softer but if he can pick up some prize-money we would be happy. As for Apple's Jade, we haven't made a definite decision on her yet. We will see what the ground is like. She ran well in the Fighting Fifth and the step up in trip would suit her well.
Noel Meade, trainer of Monksland
We have decided to come back over hurdles with him and we thought this was as good a place as any other to give him a run. He is in great form but this is a cracking little race.
Joseph O'Brien, trainer of Ivanovich Gorbatov
This will be a tough test for him but we are letting him take his chance. He's fit and well at home and I'm hoping he can run well.