Baroneracing.com Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (Grade 1)
THE victory of Statuaire offered a significant portent of what is to come this winter as this six-year-old stepped out of the long shadows cast by some of stellar stablemates to provide Willie Mullins with his seventh win in the last 11 runnings of this race.
The champion trainer has some huge talents to unleash over the coming weeks and months and this victory must bode extremely well for the prospects of his novice string.
However, it would be remiss not to pay tribute to the winner who was placed in a listed hurdle at Auteuil three years ago and seems to have been totally rejuvenated by the switch to Mullins after pulling up on her last two starts in France last year.
Statuaire came here off the comparatively humble surrounds of wins in a Downpatrick maiden in May and a Wexford novice event the following month.
On both occasions though she shaped like a nice mare and she more than delivered on that promise in a steadily run edition of this race where there was little more than three lengths covering all seven runners on the approach to the straight.
The M.L. Bloodstock-owned Statuaire still seemed to have plenty on her plate after two out but Danny Mullins soon began to conjure quite a surge from her as he went for a run down the inner.
When the favourite My Mate Mozzie was somewhat awkward at the last, the momentum was with the Mullins mare and she finished out her race in tremendously determined fashion to nail the market leader in the final yards.
Mighty Potter shaped nicely in third to lie just a length and a quarter off the front pair having looked quite green at a vital time.
“I thought we were beaten everywhere but on the line she had her nose in front. She had a lot of experience from France which helped and she’s come back very strong from a break.
“I thought that Danny gave her a fantastic ride and they got racing early while Danny kept his powder dry and he got a great jump from her at the last,” observed the winning trainer.
“I had her entered in the handicap but I thought if ever you were going to win a Grade 1, this was your chance and that’s why I ran her in it.
“I’d say she will go on to Leopardstown for the Grade 1 and you’d have to say the mares’ novice at Cheltenham would be the target.”