Willie Mullins superstar hurdler Laurina is set to make her seasonal return on Saturday in the Unibet Listed Mares Hurdle at Sandown before she sets her sights on the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Laurina has not been seen yet this season and has swerved many possible races that could been key for her preparation for the big race in the Tuesday of the festival due to the lack of rain we have had.
The unbeaten mare is looking to build on what she started last year by putting in some good performances in Maiden contests at Tramore and Fairyhouse before romping home in the Mares Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham.
From this and the last time she was seen on a racecourse was in April when she went on to land the Grade 1 Mares Novice Championship Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
(Credit Racing Post) Owner Jared Sullivan said: "The plan is to run and she's on the boat. Willie [Mullins] wants to run her on soft ground so we've had to wait for it.
"It’s been murder waiting and I've got loads of them to run, but we can only go when the ground is right.
"Look, she could've run in the Coral Hurdle or the Bula or the Relkeel and I like to think she'd have won those races, but the ground wasn't right and we don't want to mess her up."
Laurina is one of the most exciting jumps racehorses in the game with her holding unlimited amounts of potential and even without seeing her this season she is the 5/1 second favourite for the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle and her owner is looking forward to seeing her perform.
(Credit Racing Post) "They think she's pretty good," Sullivan said.
"Sandown's the only real race to go for now and if she proves good enough I'd really like to go for the Champion Hurdle with her.
"Obviously she needs to step up on what she's done and prove she's as good as we think she is, but if she is that's where we'd like to go."
Laurina needs soft to heavy ground to be in her prime conditions and with the lack of rain in the UK and Ireland Mullins has had to be patient with her but with the Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper predicting the Sandown surface to be Largely soft on Saturday.
(Credit Racing Post) He said: "The bulk of the hurdles course is soft ground and it's a dead, sticky, hard-work soft rather than a wet, loose soft.
"The official description is soft, good to soft in places in the back straight and the covers are down now so the ground is standing still. That's how I expect it to be on Saturday."
There was speculation that Laurina might be joined by her other superstar stablemate in Benie Des Dieux but she will not be heading to Sandown according to Willie Mullins .