Vroum Vroum Vroum claimed the third Grade 1 win of her career in the three mile Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. Willie Mullins' mare was value for more than the winning margin of a length and a quarter having idled on the run-in. Left clear at the last when stablemate Shaneshill took a crashing fall, she had travelled smoothly throughout and is a very smart filly. While she has plenty of options at the Cheltenham Festival, both over hurdles and fences, either the mares' hurdle over two and a half miles or the World Hurdle are her most likely routes.
It has been a fantastic three days for Ireland's champion trainer having sent out 17 winners. Carter McKay, who is featured in the Top 40 Prospects of One Jump Ahead, provided the Closutton stable with their fifth winner of the afternoon in the concluding bumper at the Dublin track. The former Irish pointer had to be pushed out inside the final quarter of a mile but was firmly on top at the finish to win by two and a half lengths. The Festival bumper at Cheltenham is likely to be his chief target this season but it will be interesting to see if he has another run between now and March. He looks yet another exciting long-term prospect.
While Gordon Elliott may not have matched Mullins numerically over the Festive period, it hasn't been a bad few days for the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup winning trainer. Hot the heels of Noble Endeavor's win in the biggest handicap of the week at Leopardstown, Outlander provided Elliott with victory in the biggest race of the week, the Lexus Chase. Ironically, trained by Mullins last term, the gelding hadn't enjoyed the best of fortunes so far this campaign for his new handler, but seemingly relished the return to three miles. Staying on well after the last, he got the better of stablemate Don Poli and Djakadam in a pulsating finish. While only seventh, don't give up hope if you followed my advice in One Jump Ahead re Zabana as a live outsider for the Gold Cup - he was taken wide and may have found the ground soft enough. Andrew Lynch's seven year old was bang in contention jumping the second last. He will be a different proposition in the spring.
Well done to Rich Ricci who highlighted Montalbano as the horse he was most looking forward to in the Christmas Special - he duly won the opening maiden hurdle at Leopardstown on his first run for his new connections. Irish expert Declan Phelan's red hot streak continued with Carter McKay's win. Indeed, in his Irish Angle article of those which have run, Declan nominated BACARDYS, CARTER MCKAY and SWEET AS A NUT. Superb stuff.
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