Shanches is set to move up to Listed level at next month’s Dublin Racing Festival after her shock debut victory over Christmas.
Tony Mullins’ five-year-old mare surprised her trainer as much as anyone at Limerick when she struck at 40-1 – providing young jockey Johnny Hurley with his first winner under rules.
“I was looking at it and still didn’t know the result until it was read out,” said Mullins as he reflected on the blanket finish on St Stephen’s Day.
“I thought she was beat looking at it – I was standing on the winning line.
“I couldn’t believe it and was obviously delighted.”
Owned and bred by the Foley family, Shanches got the better of Designer Destiny and the Cheveley Park Stud-owned and Gordon Elliott-trained favourite Larquebuse by a nose and a neck.
The Gowran trainer added: “She put in a good, tough battling performance.
“She was passed halfway up the straight and she got back up on the line.
“We were a bit surprised – she had shown us nice ability at home, but bumpers have been so hot in the last four or five years that we were just hoping for the best.
“We knew she’d run well but we didn’t think that she’d win.”
Mullins has given Shanches a quiet time since, before preparing her for Leopardstown.
“We’ve done very little with her since – and after being freshened up, she’s being trained for the mares Listed bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival.
“I would imagine she’ll have to find a bit to be concerned there, but I’m hoping she will from first time out.”
Shanches is a handful as well as obviously talented.
“She’s a bit excitable and wore a hood – the family are a bit that way,” said Mullins.
“There was only a nose and a neck in it, and the three of them were off the bridle turning in and they battled it out – and a good, tough filly won it.
“We’ll have to find that bit extra to get up to where we’re dreaming of.
“(But) when a mare starts improving there’s no knowing where they could go.
“You only have to go back to Asian Maze. She couldn’t win a bumper at several attempts, and she was an unreal mare in the end.”
Mullins was also impressed with Hurley, a late appointment at a busy time.
He said: “With the three meetings on, I rang a friend of mine and he said ‘you’ve never heard of this lad – but I’d recommend him’.
“He got into a nice rhythm and gave her a beautiful ride.
“I liked the way he spoke and all when he came in. He knew what he was at out there – and it didn’t happen by accident.”