Willie Mullins made the most of his strong hand in the 2019 Tramore Annual Badge Maiden Hurdle at the County Waterford track on Thursday.
The champion trainer fielded four for the two-mile-five-furlong affair and beforehand the betting suggested that Paul Townend’s mount Harrie (evens into 4-5) was the one to be with.
Stable companion Buck’s Billionaire made him work for it, but Harrie got home with half a length to spare.
Laurina won on this card for Mullins last year and he suggested there is plenty now to look forward to with both Harrie and Buck’s Billionaire.
The Clossuton handler said: “That was good from the first two.
“I’m delighted with Harrie, that he got his head in front, and I’m delighted with Buck’s Billionaire who was doing the job he probably should have been doing all along, but there you are, we had to try and win a bumper with him.
“Harrie was very keen and jumped very well. I think he was putting himself in the race way too early, which meant he was using himself up a lot. It was great to see him coming back at the end on a second wind.
“He always works well at home, and is a fantastic jumper. Jumping is the key to him. I think we will bring him back in trip to two miles, and push Buck’s Billionaire out in trip.
“There is plenty to look forward to with both of them.”
Punters generally had the better of the exchanges at the pre-Christmas meeting, which began with a locally-trained and classy winner in Getaway Katie Mai.
Dungarvan-based John Queally has care of the Aintree mares’ bumper heroine for JP McManus, and she delivered at odds of 4-9 on her second attempt over timber in the mares’ maiden hurdle.
Getaway Katie Mai upstaged Roney from before the last to win by three and a half lengths in the hands of Mark Walsh.
“She got the job done anyway, but I thought she made hard work of it. It’s a relief to have it behind us,” said Queally of the first-time-hooded daughter of Getaway.
“I’ll talk to Frank Berry (McManus’ racing manager) about a plan for her.”
There was also quite a promising winner in the finale, with 150,000 euro purchase Final List (1-3 favourite) eventually getting on top to secure victory in the Ring In The New Year On Jan 1st At Tramore (Ladies Pro/Am) Flat Race for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud.
The winning margin was six and a half lengths, and rider Lisa O’Neill said: “He definitely had to work for it.
“I suppose he is still a big baby. He is a big horse and sometimes around Tramore it can be difficult for a big horses like him. He got it done in the end and that’s the main thing.
“He just keeps galloping.”