Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - CLASSIFIED - BY PETER O’HEHIR

IT’S be­com­ing in­creas­ingly likely that classy mare Limini will be sup­ple­mented to the Stan James Cham­pion Hur­dle.

Win­ner of the mares novice hur­dle at the Fes­ti­val last year, Limini made an im­pres­sive re­turn to ac­tion when turn­ing over Ap­ple’s Jade at Punchestown last Wed­nes­day. And speak­ing in Clo­sut­ton yes­ter­day at the pre-fes­ti­val press day, her trainer Wil­lie Mullins in­di­cated that he might en­cour­age Rich Ricci to stump up the £20,000 to sup­ple­ment the mare next Wed­nes­day, March 8. So she could at­tempt to emu­late sta­ble­mate An­nie Power, suc­cess­ful last year when sup­ple­mented. Although he sug­gested that it was ‘50-50‘ about Limini, he ex­plained: “Vroum Vroum Mag was brew­ing some­thing when she ran in Don­caster, but I’m a lot hap­pier with her now. “If she’s fine and sparkling, she’ll go for the Mares Hur­dle. And, in that case, we’ll let Limini take her chance in the Cham­pion Hur­dle.” Foot­pad, run­ner-up to Petit Mou­choir in the Ir­ish Cham­pion Hur­dler and last year’s County Hur­dle win­ner Wick­low Brave are also on course for the Cham­pion. It has been a dif­fi­cult sea­son for Mullins. But he re­mains up­beat about Chel­tenham, where Dou­van and Djakadam will be his big hopes in the chas­ing show­pieces. Dou­van is red-hot favourite for the Queen Mother Cham­pion Chase and Mullins added: “He could be the best horse I’ve ever had, but he still has a long way to go to match Hur­ri­cane Fly’s achieve­ments. “Ex­pec­ta­tions are high for him – the bar keeps ris­ing and he keeps meet­ing it.” And he be­lieves that Djakadam, run­ner-up in the last two Golds Cups - as a six-year-old in 2015 and af­ter an in­ter­rupted prepa­ra­tion last year - is primed to run the race of his life on St. Pa­trick’s Day. Mullins said: “We’ve had a clear run with him this year and I’m happy where we are. “He’s a more ma­ture horse this year and should be reach­ing his prime. Hope­fully, the ball might bounce our way this time.”

LEAD­ING LIGHT Mare Limini and her groom Rachael Rob­bins at Clo­sut­ton press day yes­ter­day

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