CHELTENHAM without Quevega will seem a little strange this year as Willie Mullins’ wonder mare is not around to record a seventh straight win in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (4.00pm).
However, the all-conquering Mullins yard have nominated an able substitute in the extraordinarily talented Annie Power, whose only ever defeat came in last year’s World Hurdle.
The seven-year-old has won all 11 other starts under rules and has the ability to pick up from where Quevega left off and keep this prize at Closutton for years to come.
Even though Annie Power has had plenty of well-documented problems in her build-up to Cheltenham, she has apparently had a trouble-free passage since Christmas and should have far too much quality for this lot this afternoon.
She is a best-priced 8/13 with Betway, but I’m prepared to give that a miss and take a chance on her stablemate GLENS MELODY in the betting without market. Paul Townend is re-united with last year’s runner-up and she looks a rock-solid proposition at Sky Bet’s 13/8 without Annie Power.
Glens Melody looked really good at Warwick last time in a race she won less convincingly 12 months earlier. She ran the race of her life behind Quevega 12 months ago and looks primed for another bold show this afternoon.
As for the remainder, Nicky Henderson’s Polly Peachum is another sure to go well. She missed last year’s Festival but was a very impressive winner at the track in April and is expected to love the spring ground.
Alan King has freshened up L’Unique and has always maintained the six-year-old wants better ground. She’s another to consider as an each-way option at around the 20/1 mark.
GLENS MELODY (W/O Annie Power) 3.20pm Cheltenham