Thursday, October 14, 2010
By Stephen Dwyer
Voler La Vedette , the second-best racing mare in Ireland after Quevega, began her season in good style at Punchestown this week when winning the Grabel Mares Hurdle (listed) race over 2m 2f in very comfortable fashion.
Winning unextended, the 6/4 favourite beat second favourite Elyaadi into third. Elyaadi, winner of two moderate hurdle races did not provide stern opposition and finished eight lengths third.
Voler La Vedette runs well fresh, in her third season now, the six year old has won each of her three seasonal races easily including this same race last year. Notably, she does not run well after Christmas, winning only once in the period. Indeed her post-Christmas record from January to May reads 35139. By contrast her pre-Christmas record in the first half of the season reads 111-111-1
Clearly she likes the ground soft, the 13 length hammering of Go Native in the €50000 Grade 3 Wkd Core Hurdle at Down Royal last year showed this in no uncertain terms. This was her last win of the 2009 campaign, finishing third in the Mares race at Cheltenham and ninth of eleven in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Looking a proper mare this year, she has filled out and appears more poised and stronger. At Punchestown on Wednesday she simply had too many guns for the opposition. Wearing ear-plugs for the first time, she settled well early on. Barry Geraghty placed the mare in a good position in midfield in the early stages as Ocean Bright and Gudnis Gracious Me took the lead.
Geragthy barely had to shake up Voler La Vedette to take the lead just before the final flight where she pulled three lengths clear of Star Wood.
Following the race, trainer Colm Murphy also noted “She came here a little bit under-cooked and she should improve an awful lot from it.”
Whether or not she is as good as Quevega remains to be seen but early on in the season she is at her best. She reminds me a little of Solerina, maybe she might not stay the 2 m 4f of the Hattons Grace, having never won over the distance but it’s worth a try, as is the Lismullen Hurdle.
The Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown is likely the next stop for the mare; there she is likely to take on some top-class opposition, quite possibly including Hurricane Fly.
She looks a tough mare and gets a valuable weight allowance. This season she might put it up to the big boys.
Voler La Vedette, what does it mean?
What else could it mean but;
To steal the show