Vroum Vroum Mag a Christmas cracker as Willie Mullins dominates at Leopardstown
WILLIE Mullins may have been out of luck with Djakadam in the Lexus Chase, but the white-hot trainer still enjoyed a four-timer on the Leopardstown card.
The highlight of which was undoubtedly Vroum Vroum Mag's success in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle, with the Rich Ricci-owned mare seeing off stable companion Clondaw Warrior in the Grade One over three miles.
The 8-15 favourite cruised through the race and looked set to win comfortably, but Ruby Walsh had to get serious in the last 100 yards to score by a length and a quarter.
It could so easily have been a clean sweep of the places for Mullins but Shaneshill fell at the last, which gifted Snow Falcon third spot.
Mullins said: "She always falls asleep in her races, and that's why I thought we'd have no problems going out to three miles with her.
"She works with our Champion Hurdle horses. We know she stays three miles now, and she can go over hurdles and jump fences.
"She's the super-sub in the Ricci team, and that's where she fits in. She's an extraordinary mare.
"Clondaw Warrior ran a fantastic race and Shaneshill was going well, too.
"I think Patrick (Mullins) and Shaneshill just got their wires crossed going to the hurdle.
"Patrick thought he'd put in a quick one and he actually caught the top of it.
"He looked to gallop away, though, and both he and Patrick look OK, thankfully."
The day began with the Mullins-trained Montalbano justifying odds-on favouritism in the At The Races Maiden Hurdle.
Useful on the level, the 8-11 favourite moved through the race smoothly for Walsh but was made to work quite hard to land the odds.
Walsh said: "He was quite keen last week at home and I wanted to get him settled.
"He jumped super, travelled well and ultimately won well."
Bleu Et Rouge produced a tremendous turn of foot to give Mullins yet another winner in the Ballymaloe Foods Beginners Chase.
A Grade One winner over hurdles last season, the JP McManus-owned five-year-old was heavily backed and went off the 6-4 favourite.
Several sloppy leaps left him adrift of the front five turning into the straight and Barry Geraghty briefly appeared to have accepted his fate.
However, his mount really picked up the bit and closed the gap in no time.
Mullins: "He must have a huge engine to win and I thought he had no chance after the second-last.
"I think two miles is fine for him but he'll get more time to jump over a longer trip."
The Closutton handler secured a fourth winner in the closing bumper when Carter McKay (1-2 favourite) nicely delivered the goods under Patrick Mullins.
"He did what he was showing at home, and will stay on the bumper route," said the trainer.
"We will look for a winners' race, and will see if he does enough to go across (to Cheltenham)."