Past Winners » Voler La Vedette


I think the bookmakers have got it wrong by putting Voler Le Vedette in at 6/1 for the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle on Sunday, and she is well worth backing at that.

Colm Murphy’s mare is a classy performer on her day. She was a prolific mare a couple of seasons ago, she finished third behind Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival, when she was edgy beforehand and was too keen through her race, and she mixed it with Solwhit and Hurricane Fly early last season. She won the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan in February, and she won the Grade 2 hurdle at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival in April, keeping on well to get the better of the idling Blackstairmountain on the run-in.

She has always looked to be just shy of top class, but there was an awful lot to like about her debut this season in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan two and a half weeks ago. Fitted with a tongue-tie for the first time, she travelled really well through her race, took it up at the second last, and came away easily from Fully Funded and Mikael D’Haguenet.

There was talk last year about retiring her to the breeding shed (they tried to put her in foal to Presenting apparently), but that run proved that she is at least as good as ever. There is a chance, as well, that she will be better this season than before, with a tongue-tie – it may have been the case that she was having trouble with her breathing – and there is also a chance that attempts to get her in foal will have a positive effect on her racing career. I am not sure of the biology of these things, but in-foal mares often show significantly improved form, so perhaps failed attempts to get a mare in-foal can have a similar impact.

Even if she is just as good as she was at her best last season, even if she is no better, she has a real chance of winning Sunday’s race. She finished third behind Hurricane Fly and Solwhit in this race last year, they were the two best hurdlers in Ireland last season, and she finished in front of Mourad, so it doesn’t make sense that she is a bigger price than Mourad.

As well as that, she has won twice at Fairyhouse, she won that Grade 2 contest last April over Sunday’s course and distance, and she will be competing under what will probably be her optimum conditions on Sunday, two and a half miles on soft ground. She is high class in those conditions.

Of course, Thousand Stars is going to be difficult to beat, he looked good in beating Oscars Well in the Morgiana Hurdle, and he is probably at least as good over two and a half miles as he is over two. However, it doesn’t make sense that he is an even money shot while Voler La Vedette is available at 6/1. On a line through Hurricane Fly, there is very little between the pair of them at their best. Thousand Stars did finish nine lengths in front of the mare in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown last January, but that was not Voler La Vedette’s true running. Perhaps that is the run on which their respective prices have been framed, but she is better than that.

Even on official ratings, she has very little to find with the favourite. He is rated 13lb superior to her, but he has to give her the generous 7lb allowance that mares receive from geldings in Ireland now, and that brings them closer. On top of that, Thousand Stars was very strong in the market prior to his seasonal debut in the Morgiana Hurdle, whereas Voler La Vedette was not prior to hers, so there a chance that the mare has more scope for progression from that.

As well as all of that, Willie Mullins is responsible for four of the seven entrants in the race at this stage, it is unlikely that he will run them all, so there will probably be a fair shake up in the market at declaration stage. Of the others, Unaccompanied is classy, but it will be difficult for a four-year-old mare at this level, while The Real Article is a danger, but he still has to prove that he can stay two and a half miles in Grade 1 company.

Colm Murphy has confirmed that Voler La Vedette is on track for the race and she is a fair bit over-priced at 6/1 for me.