Vroum Vroum Mag wins Punchestown Champion Hurdle for Willie Mullins

Ruby Walsh was abroad Vroum Vroum Mag at Punchestown
Vroum Vroum Mag proved a brilliant replacement for Annie Power as she took victory at Punchestown

Vroum Vroum Mag proved a brilliant replacement for Annie Power as she won the Punchestown Champion Hurdle for trainer Willie Mullins on Friday.

Annie Power was unable to run after her Champion Hurdle win at Cheltenham but Vroum Vroum Mag, ridden by Ruby Walsh, was 4-6 favourite and led all the way.

Identity Thief, an 11-2 shot, was over a length back with Cheltenham runner-up My Tent Or Yours, 11-4, in third spot.

Vroum Vroum Mag was only added to the entry on Wednesday morning.

However, the Mullins horse went to post as favourite and Walsh controlled the race from the front.

Identity Thief and My Tent Or Yours tracked the leader but the Champion Hurdle runner-up's chance had gone approaching the last.

Vroum Vroum Mag, a six-times winner over fences and triumphant in the two-and-a-half-mile Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham, was challenged by Identity Thief on the run-in but quickened again to win by a length and a quarter.

Walsh said: "It just shows the strength in depth we are lucky enough to have.

"At the start of the year Nichols Canyon, Arctic Fire and Faugheen looked our main ones and we've ended up winning the Champion Hurdle with Annie Power and here with Vroum Vroum Mag.

"When I asked her round the bend she pricked her ears so I knew she had loads left. She's a diamond."

Analysis

by BBC horse-racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

Vroum Vroum Mag tends to go a little unnoticed amongst the mass of talent contained within the Willie Mullins string, but this performance showed a) her versatility, winning back down to 2 miles, and b) that she can mix it with the guys.

She came through through her first test against horses of the opposite sex in good style (full credit to Identity Thief for giving her a gallant run for her money).

Mullins insisted every route next season was possible - in hurdle races or steeplechases - but it was striking how owner Rich Ricci said he fancied going over steeplechase fences, mentioning next year's Gold Cup in particular.

She'd be out of the shadows if racing in that.

Jer's Girl wins Champion Novice Hurdle

Jer's Girl gave Barry Geraghty and JP McManus a third Grade One success of the week with victory in the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle.

Trained by Gavin Cromwell, Jer's Girl was aiming to follow up on a Grade One success at Fairyhouse against her own sex and was sent off the 11-8 favourite in receipt of weight from all of the field.

Ruby Walsh attempted to make all of the running on Thomas Hobson, with Geraghty sat just on his tail, but the latter always looked confident on the diminutive mare.

Jer's Girl sprinted clear in the straight to win by 10 lengths from Nicky Henderson's O O Seven, who stayed on past Thomas Hobson for second.

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