Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tip-top Vedette lands Hatton's Grace

Colm Murphy's fine mare Voler La Vedette at last gained a much deserved first Grade 1 victory when proving too good for her three rivals in the Bar One Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday, enhancing her claims as one of the main dangers to the mighty Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, writes Elliot Slater.

Soft ground is ideal for the daughter of King's Theatre whose task at Fairyhouse was made somewhat easier by the late absence of Mikhael D'Haguenet, but she still had to be very much on her game to see off the smart pair Mourad and The Real Article who she eventually defeated by three-and-three-quarter-lengths and a head, with Final Approach some way further back last of the quartet. People looking at the Cheltenham Festival betting should remember this.

The race panned out perfectly for Andrew Lynch's mount as she tracked the leaders until quickening through to take up the running approaching the second from home. Though both the favourite Mourad and The Real Article tried hard to close her down, Voler La Vedette (7/4) had too many guns and in the end won with a little up her sleeve. Now a winner of four of her last five outings, the only blip in the sequence was when the seven-year-old failed to handle the rampant Quevega when fourth to Willie Mullins' star at Punchestown last May in the Grade 1 World Series Hurdle. Even those looking ahead to the date of Cheltenham Gold Cup 2012 need to bear this in mind.

Murphy will keep his options open with a mind to where his talented mare will go next, pointing out that she is equally effective at anything between two to three miles and that the most important factor in any decision will be to go where there is cut in the ground. Following her win Voler La Vedette was cut to 8/1 second favourite in the ante-post list for the 'David Nicholson' behind red-hot market leader Quevega, a top price 6/4 shot to land the race for the fourth year running.

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