Wicklow Brave takes County Hurdle

Wicklow Brave takes County Hurdle

Willie Mullins’ Wicklow Brave put in a smashing performance to win the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle at odds of 25/1.

Paul Townend was on board as Mullins continued his excellent record at the Cheltenham Festival.  Having ran recently at Sandown Mullins was thrilled by how Wicklow Brave coped.  "He lost it at the start at Sandown and did the same at Newbury for some reason," Mullins said.

"He's just got into a bit of a fit the last two times. They were both standing starts whereas here was a walking start so maybe that's helped.

"His work at home is good but he's just missed the break on his last two starts. He has been doing all the good work at home but not on the course. My one instruction to Paul was to just get him away and see what he had. Paul gave him a fantastic start. He just sat and sat and sat and let him do his own thing. He came wide and kept him out of trouble.

"He's not really had any proper runs this season and hence was on a favourable mark coming in here. It's fantastic for Paul - I'm delighted for him.

"My voice is suffering a bit but when the horses are running like that, you don't get tired. Everyone is just running on adrenaline now."

Jockey Townend was delighted to claim a third success in this year’s Festival. "He's a tricky customer, but he's always had plenty of ability and 12 months' ago he ran a cracker in the [Sky Bet] Supreme Novices' Hurdle. We always thought that if things fell right for him there was a decent race to be won, and luckily for me it was today.

"He's quirky, and would give you a kick as quick as look at you. It wasn't my plan to be in front on him too early, and going to the last he was looking around, which is why he made a mistake. But I couldn't believe how well I was going at the second-last and had to go.

"It's an incredible week - I would have settled for one winner, so three is magic. Willie is a genius of a man to turn them up at places like this. I was there about three furlongs too soon, but thankfully it didn't matter. He has loads of ability and handled the ground better than I thought he would."