Bargain-buy Skyace in line for Punchestown

The Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown could be next on the agenda for Skyace following her popular success at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

Bought for the bargain-basement price of £600 after placing in three bumper starts for Willie Mullins, the six-year-old completed her fairytale rise by providing trainer Shark Hanlon with a first Grade One success in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle.

Hanlon reported his stable star to be none the worse on Easter Monday as he reflected on his accomplishment.

“It was a great day. To have my first Grade One winner on Easter Sunday was a dream,” said the Bagenalstown-based trainer.

Trainer Shark Hanlon was thrilled with Skyace's victory
Trainer Shark Hanlon was thrilled with Skyace’s victory (Niall Carson/PA)

“I think I’ve had seven Grade Ones seconds, so I suppose we were entitled to one. There’s a great buzz around the yard this morning among all the lads – that’s what keeps the whole thing going.

“I think it’s great for racing as it shows you pick up a horse for small money and you can go and have a bit of fun. Hopefully it gets more people into racing.

“I love the owners that I have, but I could just do with one or two big owners in the yard. Hopefully this result helps.”

Hanlon was not short of confidence in Skyace prior to the Fairyhouse assignment – and is eyeing further top-level honours on the final day of the National Hunt season at Punchestown on May 1.

Some of her owners enjoyed celebrating her latest triumph in Dubai.

Hanlon added: “I might have been a bit bold with the comment I came out with on Saturday, saying I thought she was a certainty, but you have to put your head on the block at some stage!

“She’s such a tough mare. She came home and stuck her head in the pot last night and you wouldn’t even know she’d had a race.

“I’d find it hard to run her against the geldings at Punchestown, but I was thinking about it last night and if Honeysuckle goes for the Champion Hurdle in Punchestown, we might go for the two-and-a-half-mile mares’ race. I don’t want to take on Honeysuckle, though.

“Our mare got a break before Cheltenham and after Punchestown there is very little for her, so if she went to Punchestown, she could have a couple of months off again.

“I think she’ll be a right mare for Cheltenham next year – for the Mares’ Hurdle.”

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