Limini (pink) could never get on terms with Whiteout
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Punchestown, Saturday
Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m2f, 4yo+
ANOTHER Grade 1 winner for Willie Mullins, but not with the mare everyone was expecting as Whiteout caused a major upset to beat her much-fancied stablemate Limini and give the Closutton master a one-two.
Keppols Queen held third spot on the line from Rock On The Moor. The Paul Townend-ridden winner was returned at 16-1.
Following her victory at Cheltenham, Limini had been beaten at short odds at Aintree when taking on the boys in the Top Novices’ Hurdle. This was, however, meant to be a much easier assignment and the 11-10 favourite was ridden with loads of confidence by Ruby Walsh, being held up well off the pace.
When she crusied into contention turning for home the result looked a formality, but Whiteout, who had been duelling up front with Keppols Queen, was far from finished under Townend and when asked to go she found plenty, so much so that Limini could not close the gap and in the end the winner won going away by four and three-quarter lengths.
For Mullins it was a fourth straight win in the race, following on from Annie Power (twice) and Glens Melody. However even he must have been surprised to see Whiteout returned to the No.1 spot. Having been pulled up in a Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Aintree, this was a swift return to form from the five-year-old.
It was by no means a bad effort from Limini, who is not the most natural jumper. She remains of interest for the Flat this summer.
“It was a bit of a surprise but I got it my own way a bit in front,” said Townend. “I was always able to set the fractions I wanted to and she quickened well off the bend.
“She never rose a gallop at Aintree for whatever reason but she had a good run at Cheltenham in the Martin Pipe race. She definitely bounced back to form and it was probably a career best.”
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