Limini: does appear among the 28 remaining in the Mares’ Hurdle
PICTURE:Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By Jon Lees 7:00PM 8 MAR 2017
THE chances of the Ricci silks being carried to a third successive victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle rested with the versatile Vroum Vroum Mag on Wednesday night after Limini was not supplemented, leaving her owner with just one possible runner and setting up the possibility of an unexpected clash between the two star mares.
Trainer Willie Mullins said Limini, who beat Apple’s Jade last month on her first start since the 2016 Grand National meeting, will contest the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, but there was no decision on Vroum Vroum Mag, who is engaged in six championship races at the meeting.
The Mullins stable has won four of the last six runnings of the Champion Hurdle, the last two with the mare Annie Power and Faugheen, both owned like Vroum Vroum Mag by Susannah Ricci.
Last year’s Mares’ Hurdle winner was the shortest priced of three Mullins entries, at 10-1 with Bet365, Ladbrokes and BoyleSports, for the Champion Hurdle for which 13 horses remained at yesterday’s five-day stage, headed by the JP McManus pair Yanworth and Buveur D’Air.
Limini had been a top-priced 6-1 for the Champion Hurdle, but Rich Ricci said: “I’ve said all along there was no point supplementing for the sake of it unless we thought she’d have a big chance of winning. I never had an interest in running just to get my money back.
“Last year, when we supplemented Annie Power, we knew she’d go very close to winning, but it was difficult to say that about Limini, given the fact she’s had only one run this season and was taking on a field of very experienced horses. It was going to be a big ask.
“I want people to understand: I was clear all along that the decision would be made this morning and that it was far from a certainty all along what we would do.”
Rich Ricci: did not feel it was the right thing to supplement Limini
PICTURE:Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Ricci, writing in his blog for RTE, suggested the decision on Limini was not necessarily a clue to Vroum Vroum Mag’s target.
“What the decision on Limini means for Vroum Vroum Mag is unclear,” he added. “I remember last year when we were supplementing Annie I said I wasn’t sure we were supplementing the right one, considering how well Vroum Vroum was working.
“So I don’t know what to do. She’s in the Champion Hurdle, the Mares’ Hurdle and the Stayers’ Hurdle. What you can do is to be too clever by half, spread yourself too thin and walk away with nothing.
“I’m not interested in that after the year we’ve had so, although it wouldn’t be my usual stance, I wouldn’t be against Limini and Vroum Vroum Mag taking each other on. Both are working well, there is still a week to go and we won’t be calling that until the weekend, I’d imagine.”
Mullins, who also has Footpad and Wicklow Brave in the Champion, said: “Limini is fine, but we just decided not to supplement her for the Champion Hurdle. The plan now is for her to go for the Grade 1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.
“No decision has been made on which race Vroum Vroum Mag will run in. She has plenty of options, so we’ll wait and see.”
Coral Cup for Tombstone
The Riccis were not the only ones pondering Champion Hurdle options with Red Mills Hurdle winner Tombstone also not supplemented. Gigginstown House Stud will now rely on Petit Mouchoir with Tombstone, who had been 12-1 in the betting, heading for the Coral Cup.
Gigginstown House Stud racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “It’s purely based on the fact we want to look after Tombstone this year and save him for next year, when we think he will make a lovely chaser.
“We have always had him down as a horse for fences but he had a little setback, hence why he only made his seasonal debut at Navan in January before winning the Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran Park last month.”
Moon Racer (left): decision on his target will be taken at the weekend
Weekend decision for Moon Racer
A decision on Moon Racer is expected at the weekend with the leading Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender also left in the Champion.
Trainer David Pipe said: “I will speak to the owners and Tom Scudamore and decide which is the best route to go. We had to wait to see what got supplemented and nothing got supplemented.
“I’m sure Bryan Drew will be keen to go for the Champion. Caroline Tisdall is away in Cuba at present so I’ll have to try to catch up with her at some point. We’ll see how he works tomorrow and make a decision after that.”
Yorkhill was among 15 confirmations for the Racing Post Arkle, along with favourite Altior. A total of 26 remain in the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase.
There were no notable withdrawals from either of the day one handicaps, the Ultima Handicap Chase and the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.