Willie Mullins’ mare runs in the Grade 1 Mares Champion Hurdle just under two weeks after she bagged her first Grade 1 win at Fairyhouse when defeating Let’s Dance
CELEBRITY-owned Augusta Kate is looking to give her A-list owners another Grade 1 win in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
The mare, who is owned by the likes of Alan Shearer, Ant and Dec and Lee Westwood battled on gamely to win her first Grade 1 at Fairyhouse just under two weeks ago.
Ex-England striker Shearer, who was particularly animated in his celebrations, said: “Willie has told us she is in great form at home still, and after her last win we have to go there thinking she’ll be there or thereabouts.
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“One thing I am at least certain of is that I’ll be backing her!”
Westwood’s manager Chubby Chandler is part of the syndicate, too, and enjoys the camaraderie in the group as much as anything else.
He said: “The partnership came about, as everyone knows now, in Augusta, which is how she got her name.
“We’re all friends of Graham. Ant and Dec and Alan play at Graham’s golf club (Close House) and Lee now lives up there because he is going out with Graham’s wife Andrea’s sister, Helen.
“Every time Kate wins we have a dinner, but we have to arrange it months in advance because we’re always here, there and everywhere.
“We all take our wives and it’s great to see Willie in a different environment, he’s such good company.
“We all enjoy it so much. Shearer does these daft commentaries every time she runs that he sends to our WhatsApp group and there is even a little emoji you can get of him doing his one-handed celebration.
“It’s all a bit of a laugh and it is what ownership should all be about. The fact she’s running in Grade 1s makes it all the sweeter.
“She’s just not a great jumper, that’s her biggest problem, and she seems to stutter into them. The day she fell against Death Duty the feeling was she’d have won.
“She’ll learn, I’m sure of that. She’s with a master trainer and she can only get better.
“We’re all looking forward to it, and Paul Townend isn’t a bad substitute to have on your side.
“Lee and I have four runners on Saturday and we’ll be at Sandown instead because we’re then going to the boxing later.”
Mullins also runs the supplemented Karalee, Airlie Beach and Whiteout, winner of the race last season.
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But Mullins’ mares will face a tough nut to crack in former stablemate Apple’s Jade, who beat Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini at Cheltenham.
“She came out of her run at Cheltenham in great form,” said trainer Gordon Elliott.
“She seems to thrive on her racing and her work since Cheltenham has been good.
“The tongue tie didn’t do her any harm at Cheltenham, so she’ll wear that again.”
Elliott has also declared Barra but she ran on Thursday.
Phil Kirby is responsible for the only other runner, Lady Buttons, winner of her last three but at a much lower level.