Sandown a match made in heaven for Lau­rina

The Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - BY GRA­HAM CLARK

LAU­RINA had lit­tle more than a work­out as she duly dis­posed of her soli­tary ri­val to en­hance her Chel­tenham claims in the Uni­bet Mares’ Hur­dle at Sandown.

All eyes were on the Wil­lie Mullinstrained six-year-old, who was mak­ing her first ap­pear­ance since land­ing a Grade One event at Fairy­house in April af­ter ear­lier suc­cess in the mares’ novice hur­dle at Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val.

Ruby Walsh sent Lau­rina to the front from the start and the six-year-old won as a 1-8 shot should with­out be­ing ex­tended, as she took her 100 per cent record over hur­dles to five from five.

The race was re­duced to a match af­ter both Got Away and Smaoineamh Alainn were late with­drawals – and it turned it into a one-horse race at the busi­ness end.

Sen­su­lano kept tabs on the hot favourite un­til the fi­nal two flights, from where she was put in her place and even­tu­ally beaten by 48 lengths.

Lau­rina re­mained un­changed at 9-2 for the Cham­pion Hur­dle with Bet­fair and 4-1 with Paddy Power. RaceBets went 100-30 from 5-1, with Bu­veur D’Air the 5-4 favourite (from 11-10).

Mullins said: “Ruby said she was very good. Ev­ery time he took a pull she wanted to go faster and faster, and he said he never re­ally got go­ing.

“Go­ing to Chel­tenham is the plan. I would have said she has im­proved, but that com­pe­ti­tion didn’t tell us enough.

“A win­ner is a win­ner and I’m very happy with that.”

Walsh said: “Sandown is a fair old slog. You want the first run un­der belt be­fore you take on the top horses. She has her first run now and hope­fully she’ll step up.

“It’s great she’s started and the dream is still alive.”

Mean­while, Elixir De Nutz ground out a game all-the-way suc­cess to take Grade One hon­ours in the

Uni­bet Tol­worth Novices’ Hur­dle at Sandown.

Colin Tiz­zard’s five-year-old – wear­ing the yel­low and black colours of owner Terry Warner – kept up the gal­lop to see off his four ri­vals in the hands of Tom O’Brien.

Elixir De Nutz (3-1) put in a good round of jump­ing and found plenty when tack­led by Grand Sancy in the clos­ing stages to score by half a length.

The dis­ap­point­ment of the race was the Nicky Hen­der­son-trained 6-5 favourite Rath­hill, who made a mis­take early on and was strug­gling from some way out.

Elixir De Nutz was com­plet­ing a hat-trick af­ter two wins at Chel­tenham and was cut to 14-1 from 20-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hur­dle with Bet­fair and Paddy Power.

Tiz­zard said: “Go­ing from the front like that, you have got to be tough. He jumps his hur­dles and is away from them so fast. If we held him up I don’t know whether he could do that.

“That is the beauty of him – the way he crosses a hur­dle he takes a length out of them ev­ery time. We’ve had him for four runs, three wins and one sec­ond, and he is just a very nice horse.”

Grand Sancy’s sta­ble­mate South­field Stone was third.

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