MULLINS TAKES THE TRAINERS' RECORD
The domination of The Festival 2018 by two Irish trainers - Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott - was further proven when Mullins won his seventh race of this year's meeting, the G2 Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle, with Laurina.
The five-year-old mare trounced her rivals by a stunning 18 lengths, more than justifying her position as the 4/7 favourite. She was ridden by Paul Townend, who was scoring his second winner of the day, following Penhill in the Sun Bet Stayers' Hurdle.
Mullins, who has won all three runnings of this mares' race (Limini, 2016 and Let's Dance, 2017), is now the most successful trainer in Festival history with 61 winners in total, one more than Nicky Henderson.
Mullins said: "It's unbelievable. When you start training you hope for one winner here - that is the greatest aspiration that most Irish trainers have. This isn't something we ever dreamt of because we thought we couldn't do that with a base in Ireland.
"Laurina is a fine, big mare. We've always thought she was very, very decent. If they ever ran a mare's chase here at The Festival, she'd be the sort you'd want for it. Her two runs at home have been very good here but to do that here... There's a mare's race at Fairyhouse at Easter, so if she recovers enough she might go there.
"This mare has more size and scope than either of my previous winners of this race, Limini or Let's Dance."
"SHE'S SPECIAL" SAYS TOWNEND
Willie Mullins' Laurina continued the Irish dominance on St Patrick's Thursday as she became the sixth Irish-trained winner from six races in the G2 Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle.
The 4/7 favourite delivered one of the performances of this year's Festival with a facile 18-length success, maintaining Mullins' unbeaten record in the two-mile contest since its inception (Limini 2016 and Let's Dance 2017) and making Ireland's champion Jump trainer the winning-most trainer at The Festival with 61 triumphs (seven so far this year).
Laurina was ridden by Paul Townend, who was registering a 19.43/1 double following Penhill's victory in the G1 Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle and landing his eighth winner at The Festival overall.
Townend said: "She's special. You can ride Laurina as you want and she's just a lovely mare.
"She has improved with every run, she has a beautiful attitude and is a really fine mare - she's hacked up.
"They went quick but I was always in my comfort zone. I was there an hour too soon! She took me there with so much ease.
"She was looking around up the straight, but she was entitled as she was doing it that easier.
"Let's hope we keep her in one piece, but she will be a lovely hurdler, but does have the size and scope to jump a fence.
"I will imagine she'll go to Punchestown now and we'll sit down and make a plan after that. I'm sure wherever she turns up next, she'll give a good account of herself.
"It shows how competitive the Irish racing is, I'm lucky to be a part of a real powerhouse yard and I'm grateful for the opportunities."
4.50pm Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2)
1 LAURINA (Sullivan Bloodstock Ltd) Willie Mullins IRE 5-11-07 Paul Townend 4/7 fav
2 CAP SOLEIL (Mrs S Noott) Fergal O'Brien 5-11-07 Paddy Brennan 10/1
3 CHAMPAYNE LADY (Rory Connell) Alan Fleming IRE 6-11-02 Denis O'Regan 80/1
Distances: 18, sh
Tote Win: £1.60 Places: £1.20, £2.20, £9.10 Exacta: £7.90
Willie Mullins - 61st winner at The Festival
Paul Townend - 8th winner at The Festival
BetBright Cup - standings after 20 races
Great Britain 5
CAP SETTLES FOR SECOND
Trainer Fergal O'Brien had mixed emotions after Cap Soleil (10/1) ran a great race to finish second in the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle, albeit 18 lengths behind the winner Laurina.
"We thought she was one of our better chances of the week - well she was our best chance," rued O'Brien. "But I'm delighted with her. She's beaten some good mares there and the winner is obviously very special.
"We think she wants further and she's a possible for the Grade 1 at Fairyhouse over 2m 4f over Easter, especially if we get wet ground."
Jockey Paddy Brennan added: "I've ridden against Quevega and the winner could be nearly as good. I'm pleased with that run."