Described by Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci as a supersub, Vroum Vroum Mag is one of the most talked about horses in training. The mare is perhaps the most versatile animal in National Hunt racing but that means her connections face a tough task as they look to plot her future.
A Grade 1 winner over 2m, 2m4f and 3m she has a whole host of paths ahead of her over both hurdles and fences. Attention is inevitably now turning to the Cheltenham Festival, and exactly which race she will grace with her presence.
We take a look at the pros and cons of each of her possible targets at Cheltenham as we bid to work out her most likely target. Wish us luck...
A Punchestown Champion Hurdle hero, Vroum Vroum Mag is a Grade 1 winner over the minimum trip and plenty of owners would send her to the day one feature in March. A 7lb allowance in her favour would also give her a chance against the boys and with a defeat of Identity Thief over 2m on her record, she is clearly more useful at the trip.
However, Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci already have the last two Champion Hurdle winners in their care and provided at least one of Annie Power or Faugheen are fit and well, it is hard to imagine them letting Vroum Vroum Mag also run. Let's be honest, Vroum Vroum is not in the same league as either of those horses so unless both former champions contrive to miss the Festival, Vroum Vroum is not heading to the Champion Hurdle.
Nothing to see here.
Vroum Vroum Mag is currently 25/1 with Paddy Power in the Champion Hurdle Betting
Vroum Vroum Mag is the defending Mares Hurdle hero and plenty expect her to stick to her own sex again. The Mares races would certainly be an easier option than taking on the boys at Prestbury Park and the intermediate 2m4f trip is considered by many to be her best.
The Mares Hurdle is however shaping up to be a tougher race this year with Apple's Jade, who beat Vroum Vroum earlier this season, also set to go down this path so it would be far from a penalty kick. Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci also have the added complications of managing Limini and Let's Dance, who both could also end up in this race.
Would Rich Ricci want to run three of his horses against each other?
If we believe that a strongly run intermediate trip would suit Vroum Vroum Mag down to a tee then why not send her back over fences for the Ryanair Chase?
This is certainly a possibility and must be in the minds of Messrs Mullins and Ricci. She is unbeaten over fences during her career, albeit against her own sex, and the Ryanair Chase can cut up badly which may open the door for her.
Ricci does however have Djakadam and Champagne Fever in the ante-post market for the Ryanair chase, whilst Un De Sceaux could also fly the flag for Willie Mullins over 2m5f at the festival which does muddy the waters further. A return to fences at such a high level would also be slightly risky given how long she has been operating over hurdles now and should the Ryanair Chase be the target, you have to think a prep run back over the larger obstacles would be needed.
Vroum Vroum Mag is currently 12/1 with Paddy Power to win the Ryanair Chase
The Stayers' Hurdle has to be a serious option under consideration by for Vroum Vroum Mag after she won the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle over 3m at Leopardstown.
It was the furthest she has ever gone and and she passed the test in good fashion to confirm her as an extraordinary horse. The Stayers' Hurdle division doesn't have a Big Buck's or a Thistlecrack lurking this season which means that it has to be a tempting option.
A stiff 3m at Cheltenham would of course stretch that stamina even further which would be a slight worry and once again there is the whereabouts of Faugheen and Annie Power to consider. Will both run in the Champion Hurdle if fit?
That seems unlikely which means that one could re-route to the Stayers' Hurdle, and that again could leave Vroum Vroum out in the cold.
Well, no they probably wouldn't. Vroum Vroum is currently there in the ante-post Gold Cup betting at around 40/1 but it is hard to imagine her heading to the feature race of the week.
She did prove herself up at 3m in the Christmas Hurdle but she was hardly pulling away through the line that day, and 3m2f around Cheltenham would stretch her stamina even further. Add to that the looming shadow of Thistlecrack and you have to believe that Vroum Vroum would be out of her league in a Gold Cup.
Djakadam has finished 2nd in the last two renewals and would seem likely to spearhead the Mullins/Ricci assault on the Gold cup once again, despite his recent poor run in the Lexus Chase.
One or two have mentioned Djakadam as a possible Ryanair Chase runner this season but even taking that into account, it is hard to imagine that the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of jumps racing will be heading to the Gold Cup.