Laurina© Photo Healy Racing
Champion Hurdle contender Laurina displayed her wellbeing with an impressive win at Punchestown today as the Willie Mullins trained mare justified 3/10 favouritism, under Ruby Walsh, in winning the Listed Smart Money's on Coral Quevega (Mares) Hurdle.
Last season's star novice made her comeback run at Sandown on January 5 when beating a sole rival out of sight and today moved past leader and stablemate Stormy Ireland at the second last flight before staying on strongly for an effortless six lengths success over that rival.
Following the race Mullins, earlier successful with Allez Dance in the opener, said “she took a good blow and Ruby said she needed it badly. When he asked her to move up she moved up nicely, and did everything he asked her.
“She jumped a bit slow for my liking when she wasn’t on the bridle but when he gave her the office to go she sharpened up her jumping. Ruby said she was idling in front. The tight inside track today wouldn’t suit her either.
“That’s job done and hopefully we’ll get a clear run from now to Cheltenham. The Champion Hurdle is where we are aiming. That’s the owners' plan and our plan. Things can change and she is in other races.
“She got her flu jab last week and we missed a week’s training which is not ideal. I wanted the last week to sharpen her up and have her really hopping. We had to take a pull, and I’m happy knowing how we would normally shape her training coming up to a race like this.
“We’ll have to sharpen her up over the next few weeks. She was a very buzzy mare before and she has matured so maybe that’s why she looked very settled. The buzz and bustle of Cheltenham will really sharpen her up and for a Champion Hurdle she is going to have to be sharper.
“We knew we were going to have pace in the race today with Stormy Ireland who is a nice yardstick too. We knew it wasn’t going to be a pushover. She beat nothing in Sandown but looked sharper.
“She looks every inch a mare that can go chasing, and we’ll just see how she gets on in the meantime.”
Bookmakers left Laurina unchanged as the 7/2 third favourite, behind Buveur D'air and Apple's Jade, for next month's Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Quotes from Alan Magee