Private purchase Supasundae (Galileo) wins the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) at Leopardstown for trainer Jessica Harrington and the late Alan and Ann Potts, beating a strong field including former champion Faugheen.
In what was intended by Harrington as a mere tune up for a Stayers Hurdle tile at Cheltenham in March, Supasundae was imperious here.
He jumped and galloped his rivals into submission, showing a verve and slickness over his obstacles and a relentless cruising speed throughout.
Faugheen assumed control from the off under Paul Townend, with Robbie Power settling Supasundae on his heels.
Faugheen turned in fine round of hurdling, but his every stride was matched by the winner and as the market leader rapped the top of the final flight ever so slightly, Supasundae was perfectly poised to take full advantage.
As he surged on, Townend asked Faugheen for something extra, but Mullins’ charge had no response, eventually being beaten two and a quarter length’s.
Power said: “We were looking for a race for him before Cheltenham – his plan is the Stayers’ Hurdle – and we had a conversation at home in the office and decided to come here.
“We thought it might sharpen him up a little bit as he is quite lazy and hopefully it has worked because he has never jumped as well in his life. He was so slick and was actually getting upsides Faugheen at every hurdle and was fantastic.
“He has been in fantastic form of late and will definitely go for the Stayers’ Hurdle – he’s by Galileo and the drier the ground, the better (at Cheltenham).”
Harrington said: “He’s never jumped as well before, he jumped absolutely super and was always travelling. I thought they’d go too quick for him over two miles and Robert was sure when he had Faugheen in his sights at the last he would stay every inch of the way, and he did.
“When he got to the front he was only pricking his ears and galloping away. I came here to give him a prep run for the three-mile hurdle at Cheltenham and to win this is some prep run!”
She went on: “He’s only in the three-mile hurdle at Cheltenham so that’s where he’ll be going. He is a much better horse on better ground, he does not like slogging around in very muddy ground and that’s why he comes into his own in the spring.
“When he won his bumper, he beat Yanworth and I think he started favourite for the Cheltenham bumper and he is by Galileo so somewhere in there is a turn of foot.”
Hopes are high that Supasundae can take this level of form in to the Festival, and he has been installed as a well fancied favourite for the stayer’s crown in March.