Willie Mullins trained Braganza to win at Thurles races, on the back of a 1,439-day break. Betfair gave the mare quotes of 20-1 for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival
Willie Mullins pulled off a spectacular piece of training to enable one his horses to defy an absence of nearly four years.
Braganza had not run for 1,439 days before winning Thursday’s BetVictor Irish EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle at Thurles.
Getting her to peak form was not the only achievement, as s he finished last of five runners on her sole previous run.
That came at Chelmsford for Ed Dunlop in December 2017 – and the six-year-old has since had a foal.
Making her debut over hurdles, Braganza tracked the leaders and made stylish headway three hurdles from home.
Under Sean O’Keeffe, the 10-1 shot overcame a sloppy jump at the final flight to draw clear by six lengths on the run-in.
Owner Sharon Noonan said the performance was extra special as Braganza, part of a treble for Mullins, had spent so much time at her stables.
“It was absolutely amazing because it has been a long story, she hasn’t ran in so long,” she told Racing TV.
“We wanted to get into racing in a small way so a friend of ours Eamon Phelan said that this filly was going up for sale in Goffs.
“Now she was in foal at the time so we bought her, not knowing what was going to be ahead. But he liked her, we liked her and we bought her up there three years ago.
“She came home, she had a filly foal so we have a yearling at home, Champs Elysees out of her. (We) put her in training which people thought we were mad, because you don’t ever do it but Eamon definitely saw potential in her.
“He had her at home in the yard and he done a bit of work with her. He said she was a great mare, she wanted to give everything and had the ability. So we said we would go and here we are today.”
The performance saw Betfair price Braganza up at 20-1 for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival.
“I have to say I was very nervous coming (here) because she actually means a lot to us, because we have had her for three years, she has had the foal,” Noonan added.
“She’s not your average horse that you buy and you put her in training and don’t see her because we’ve had her at home.
“We have an affiliation with her, she’s in our heart and we want her to do well, so today was really, really big.”
Noonan said Mullins, in the UK ahead of saddling Ladbrokes Trophy favourite Ontheropes, would be “surprised” at Braganza’s display first time up.
The stable will also be represented by Brahma Bull, off top weight of 11st 12lb and Annamix in Saturday’s feature race at Newbury.
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Henry de Bromhead, successful at Thurles with Clifton Warrior in theBetVictor Maiden Hurdle, sends over key contender Eklat De Rire.
Teaming up with Rachael Blackmore, they hope to enjoy another big payday a week on from A Plus Tard’s impressive Betfair Chase triumph.
“Second season novices seem to have a good record in the race and hopefully he fits that profile,” De Bromhead said.
“He had two very good runs over fences last year; he was very impressive in his novice chase at Naas and we thought he was going well at Cheltenham. He is a horse we have high hopes for.”