Connections of Laurina hope their patience with her will paid dividends when she lines up against three rivals at Sandown on Saturday.
The Willie Mullins-trained mare was one of the breakout stars of 2018, winning all four of her starts, including an impressive victory at Cheltenham in the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
The six-year-old was expected to head down the Champion Hurdle route but has yet to be seen in a competitive environment, skipping the Coral Hurdle at Ascot, the International and Relkeel Hurdles at Cheltenham and the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown due to concerns over the ground.
However, with the forecast going at Sandown for Saturday expected to be soft, good to soft in places, Laurina will make her seasonal bow in the Unibet Mares’ Hurdle.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “We’ve had to be very patient with her because we’ve been waiting on the ground.
“This looks an ideal starting point for her. She’s a second-season novice, so it’s nice not to have to pitch her straight into an open Grade One, and it looks as though the ground will be soft.
“She’s in good form,and we’re hoping she can produce the same sort of form she showed last year. If she’s going to be a Champion Hurdle mare, she’s going to have to be winning a race like this.”