Sandown a match made in heaven for Laurina
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.