Stormy Ireland completed a hat-trick for the season with a decisive success in the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas.
The Willie Mullins-trained mare rarely runs a bad race, with her five previous career victories supplemented by seven runner-up finishes.
Just last season, the six-year-old chased home a pair of high-class stablemates in Laurina and Benie Des Dieux, while she was also second to subsequent Champion Hurdle hero Espoir D’Allen and found only Roksana too strong in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Having won against her own sex at Punchestown and Leopardstown earlier in the campaign, Stormy Ireland was the 3-10 favourite to beat the boys in this two-mile Grade Three – and ultimately got the job done in fine style.
After taking a lead from Mengli Khan for much of the race, Stormy Ireland went to the front in the straight under Paul Townend and passed the post six lengths to the good, with her stable companion Franco De Port coming through to beat the long-time leader for second.
Both BoyleSports and Paddy Power make the winner an 8-1 shot to go one better than last season in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Mullins said: “I was particularly pleased she was able to win at that sort of trip, and she’s improving all the time. She doesn’t have to make her own running now, which is good to see.
“She was rated 148 coming into this race, so she is good enough to be entered and run in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham after that run.
“Franco De Port left his bad run at Christmas behind, and I probably got the tactics wrong then. We made the running at Limerick, and I don’t think it suited.”