Stormy Ireland capped off a good holiday season for Willie and Danny Mullins by winning the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Less than a week after combining to land the King George VI Chase with the outsider Tornado Flyer, they are back to plunder another big prize.
The tiny mare had only raced once this season, feeling a letdown behind Honeysuckle in Hatton’s Grace Hurdle in Fairyhouse.
However, she returned to her terrier best on this occasion with an absolute success.
In his younger days, he used to tear himself in front and it was worth seeing if he could hold out, but these days he’s much more docile.
Never more than five points clear, he looked like a duck spinning down the straight as Brewin’upastorm and McFabulous loomed in the distance, with Guard Your Dreams and Dans Le Vent also on the premises.
Mullins still had some cash up his sleeve, and resumed kicking, closing everything but favorite Brewin’upastorm.
Aidan Coleman seemed to be traveling marginally better on the run to the last flight, but he got it all wrong and crashed, just as he did two years ago when he looked ready to win a grade two beginner hurdle on the track.
This left Stormy Ireland (4/1) free to beat Paul Nicholls’ McFabulous by two and a half lengths.
Danny Mullins said: “I am delighted to have an association with this horse because Paul (Townend) had a date with Al Boum Photo in Tramore.
“I was able to build the race as I saw fit. She likes to burn early but they couldn’t reach me today.
“It was 50-50 arriving at the last, but my gut feeling was that I was starting to get to the top.
“She’s a tough mare. She’s not the biggest, but she has a huge heart.
“Having the pressure and being able to deliver like a jockey and do it right is one of the greatest feelings imaginable. But I’m just a little cog in the wheel.”
Olly Murphy was philosophical about Brewin’upastorm’s late departure.
“I don’t think anyone would disagree that he was coming to win his race and that today was better than ever,” he said.
“We’re not going home with any cash prizes, but my horse looks fine and my jockey is gone, which is the main thing.”