It looks like third time’s the charm for Stormy Ireland after the Motivator Mare landed a first Grade One success of her career at Punchestown Festival, writes Bradley West.
Things have been far from straightforward for the seven-year-old since the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
From the care of Willie Mullins, she moved to Paul Nicholls’ yard with little success and then back again – but has now rediscovered a winning touch at just the right time.
Known for running only one way, at a very lively pace, Stormy Ireland led from start to finish of the Mares Champion Hurdle to make easy work of her more fancied stable companion Concertista and Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Melody.
And that continued jockey Danny Mullins’ brilliant season and day, as he added to victory earlier with Mister Fogpatches in the Colm Quinn BMW Group Handicap Chase.
“It was great to get the winner earlier and Stormy Ireland has kept going what’s been a good day so far,” he said.
“It was a good performance the last day, and she stepped up today to get a deserved first Grade One.
“Competitive field but she oozed class the whole way around.
“I’ve been lucky to ride winners all the way through the season at all the big festivals.”
The fairytale story of Skyace hit a snag, as she fell at the first hurdle.
But where she struggled, Stormy Ireland was a calm and confident presence at the front throughout the race.
And that meant a 17th winner of the week for Willie Mullins, and an eighth success in this particular race.
“She appears to have improved from Fairyhouse, it’s a great day for Danny,” he said.
“That mare’s surprised me there, how much she’s come on for that. We’ll keep her in training and keep her going, she looks to have plenty left in the tank.
“Maybe we’ll go back to the Flat with her. It might be a safer career option than going chasing.”