Trainer Stuart Crawford was all smiles after seeing his mare Brucio win the Listed Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival and he'll be hoping there is more to come.
The daughter of Derby winner Authorized was gaining back-to-back wins over hurdles and is now 2-4 since going jumping.
Her trainer has hinted that the Cheltenham Festival could be on the radar next as her owners Simon Munir and Isaac Suede begin to contemplate a big spring for their famous 'double green' colours. Brucio could be another fine string to their already impressive bow.
Stuart Crawford is based at his Newlands Farm near Larne in County Antrim alongside his brothers who make up Crawford Bros Racing.
Crawford first took out a full public licence in 2011 and trains his horses on the family-run Newlands Farm, alongside his brothers Steven, Ben (stable jockeys) and Ross.
The mare Oh Jackie registered his first racecourse success in the prestigious La Touché Cup at the Punchestown Festival in 2008 and Crawford has established himself a capable trainer both in Ireland and also noted for his raids to northern England and Scotland.
The likes of Fine Rightly and Now Let Go were amongst the more notable winners for the yard.
Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Suede are amongst the most high profile in the jumps game across Britain and Ireland, their double-green colours synonymous with the likes Bristol De Mai, Blue Lord, and Footpad in past times and now star two-mile chaser El Fabiolo.
Munir and Souede are major investors in National Hunt Racing and they have Daryl Jacob as their retained rider. Jacob was on board for Brucio's win at Catterick in January, but it was JJ Slevin in the plate for the Dublin Racing Festival win.
They've had horses with all the major trainers, including Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Nicky Henderson, while also supporting smaller operations like that of Stuart Crawford.
Brucio was sold to Highflyer Bloodstock at the Goffs UK sale in August 2021 for £42,000 as a three-year-old filly and was subsequently acquired by current owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
The mare is by Authorized, the Epsom Derby winner in 2007, out of Lupa Montana. She is closely related to bumper winner Pour Joie, half-sister to Group-placed Spanish 1m3f winner Hardpia; dam placed 1m1f (63), half-sister to Group-placed 1m2f winner Stay The Night out of US 1m4f stakes winner.
She debuted for the Crawford yard in the Grade 3 Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race at the Punchestown Festival in April 2023, finishing a pleasing fifth of 13 under Ben Crawford.
She ran in two more bumpers, at Wexford in May and Sedgefield in October, before finishing third in a Down Royal maiden hurdle (2m1f, soft) in November.
She fell at Ayr on her second start over timber but more than made amends when scoring decisively at Catterick (1m7½f, soft) in January 2024.
She received an opening handicap mark of 116 and duly obliged again at the Dublin Racing Festival in the Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle, a Grade 3 over two-and-a-quarter miles.
The win at the DRF was very much a nod towards stamina, with lots of pace on throughout the race and Slevin timing his challenge to pick off front-running Minx Tiara after they jumped the final flight.
Crawford had a glint in his eye post-race and suggested the Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham on 14th March could be an option. Brucio is 25/1 for that contest. A major handicap, likely at one of the major spring festivals in Ireland, is also possible.
"JJ had her in a great position and she jumped very well for a lightly-raced mare. There were a couple of hares in front and luckily they have just gone a bit too hard. She's won well in the end," said Crawford.
"She's been steadily improving and won in Catterick the last day, which was a good piece of race selection by Anthony (Bromley, Racing Manger for owners).
"We were in a different ball game today, but it has given her a bit of confidence. It's like going from primary school to brain surgery! She has a wee touch of class about her, and it couldn't have gone any better on the day.
"We have plenty of options now and we could think about the mares’ novice in Cheltenham or a good handicap somewhere. I think she'll handle nicer ground."
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.