Laurina maintains impeccable record with comfortable success in Quevega Hurdle

Laurina made it two from two for the season and six from six since joining Willie Mullins as she registered a comfortable success at Punchestown on Wednesday to cement her status as a leading contender for the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

The six-year-old was never hard pressed to see off stablemate Stormy Island in the Coral-backed Quevega Mares Hurdle, after which she was cut to a best-priced 4-1 (from 9-2) by Betfair Sportsbook for the Champion Hurdle.

She showjumped a couple of her early flights, but once she got into a rhythm her hurdling improved, and at speed over the last couple it was as slick as might have been hoped. She eased clear of her front-running stablemate Stormy Ireland to score by six lengths.

Winning rider Ruby Walsh said: "It felt like a race today, whereas Sandown was just a canter round. They went a good gallop and I thought she did it really well.

"She made one mistake, when she was a little bit too relaxed, but when I woke her up she was very good. She needed that run and it should leave her spot on.

"You wouldn't want to go two miles around Punchestown with her, but I wouldn't have any concerns about going two miles around Cheltenham."

Mullins said: "She took a good blow, she really needed that badly. We missed a week's work with her, which wasn't ideal, but I'm very happy with her knowing what she'd done at home.

"When Ruby asked her to move up, she did that nicely. She jumped a bit slow for my liking early on, but once Ruby gave her the office she sharpened up her jumping.

"Hopefully she'll get a clear run from now until Cheltenham. The owner's plan is to run her in the Champion Hurdle and that's what we're aiming for."

Buveur D'Air is favourite to win a third straight Champion Hurdle at a best-priced 2-1, while Apple's Jade is a 9-4 chance.

Mullins was also very pleased with Stormy Ireland and she was cut to 6-1 (from 8-1) by BoyleSports for the OLBG Mares' Hurdle.