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Published: 19:24 | 15/3/16

Vroum Vroum races to Mares Hurdle

Day one treble for Walsh, Mullins and Ricci

Vroum Vroum Mag strode to victory in the OLBG Mares Hurdle to secure a memorable treble for Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci on day one of the Cheltenham Festival.

After winning on Douvan and Annie Power in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy and the Stan James Champion Hurdle respectively earlier in the day, Walsh moved his Mullins-trained and Ricci-owned charge into the lead heading towards the last and, after clearing the final fence, eased clear of the field to win by two-and-half-lengths.

Rock On The Moor finished second, with Legacy Gold in third to make it a one-two-three for the Irish contingent. The win marked Mullins' eighth straight victory in the race.

"This is a really good mare, but we didn't really know how good she might be," jockey Walsh said afterwards.

"I got plenty wide down the back, but she travelled really well. Once the gaps opened when we straightened up, it was all over. It's been a great day for us.

"She's very different to Annie Power. She's a very placid individual. In the summer when they are out in the field she won't move any more than she has to. Annie is all business, walking around, and Maggie is standing in the middle looking at her."

Mullins added: "Her work during the week was awesome and we all wondered whether we had put the right mare in the Champion Hurdle!

"We just thought coming here today, barring traffic problems or a fall, she would win, as her work was just fantastic.

"My only worry was that she might have left the race behind with that particular piece of work. I can't remember what she worked with but it was awesome. Everyone who saw it thought so.

"Ruby was cruising at all stages and was just left to try and find a position. It was an armchair ride in the end. She could come back here for this race next year. She's very versatile and she falls asleep with you when you ride her at home.

"Ruby thought at one point last year that she could be a Grand National horse as she's that laid back. We thought she'd be a big chasing type but she keeps surprising us."

Owner Ricci was also pleased with the outcome. "She could be a Gold Cup mare, but we took her over hurdles this year and we never thought she'd do this," he added.

"I think she'll be back over fences next year, as I think she looks more like a chaser. Jumping is her strength, as she jumps for fun.

"Someone described this mare as a big buxom brunette, and that fits the bill, whereas Annie Power is more of a tomboy."

By: Kieran O'Daly

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