Vroum Vroum Mag (left) beats off Identity Thief
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Punchestown, Friday
Betdaq Punchestown Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 4yo+, 2m
VROUM VROUM MAG triumphed in a thrilling conclusion to the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, beating off a late challenge from Identity Thief to remain unbeaten for trainer Willie Mullins.
Stepping down to two miles for the first time, Vroum Vroum Mag – who won a Grade 3 chase over two and a half miles this time last season – showcased her remarkable versatility in magnificent style, beating the gallant Identity Thief by a length and a quarter.
Just as Annie Power did when playing supersub to Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, Vroum Vroum Mag was near foot-perfect in her assault. Neither the trip, nor the opposition, came close to stopping the 4-6 favourite from taking victory.
“She has oodles of speed,” said winning jockey Ruby Walsh. “The last piece of work before the Champion Hurdle we were thinking ‘I hope we’ve put the right mare in’. She’s a diamond isn’t she?”
Identity Thief made the early running in the race as Vroum Vroum Mag tracked him in second. However, just as was the case with Annie Power at Cheltenham, Ruby Walsh decided to take things up from an early stage.
From then on it was a question of when would Walsh push the button as his mount travelled powerfully through the race.
A slight mistake at the penultimate flight did little to stop her momentum as she had the whole field fighting to keep with her turning for home.
Identity Thief did his best to get to the mare but Vroum Vroum Mag was always in command.
Mullins not ruling anything out
With Annie Power and Faugheen already in the mix, Mullins has something of a headache for next year’s Champion Hurdle.
“We didn’t realise she has as much speed as she does until we worked her before Cheltenham,” said the trainer.
“What we saw left us gobsmacked and wondering whether we had supplemented the right mare for the Champion Hurdle. We thought we had one going to Cheltenham who was better than everything in the race but we weren’t so sure today with My Tent Or Yours and Identity Thief in the field.
“I honestly don’t know what we’ll do with her next season. I’m not ruling anything out.”
Bookmakers seemed equally unsure of Vroum Vroum Mag’s target with William Hill going 10-1 for next year’s Champion Hurdle while Paddy Power cut the mare to 7-1 (from 10-1) for the World Hurdle.
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