The Road to Cheltenham
FOR the last five years Quevega has been the Irish banker at Cheltenham.
The Grade Two David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle is by no means the strongest race run over the four days and Quevega has simply been in a different class to the opposition.
She’s a very talented mare, expertly looked after by her top trainer Willie Mullins, who incredibly, for the last five years, has followed the same programme of running the daughter of Robin Des Champs just twice a year. However, she is now a 10-year-old and I can’t recommend backing her at odds-on. Last year the dream of following in the hoofprints of the great Golden Miller and winning the same race five times at the Festival looked in serious doubt.
She was a mile back turning for home and it was only the strength of her jockey Ruby Walsh in the saddle that got her home – albeit quite comfortably in the end.
She beat a French longshot that day, Sirene D’Ainey, by a length-and-a-quarter and I’m keen to get that one on side now.
Emmanuel Clayeux’s eight-year-old is a pretty consistent animal, winning or placing in 15 of her 23 races. She’s been running credibly of late, mixing hurdles runs with chase starts and is very versatile ground-wise.
There are niggling doubts over Quevega’s well-being – Mullins recently stated she had missed some work through stiffness – while it seems almost certain that current second-favourite for the race, Annie Power, will not run in the race.
That means the 11/1 with Star Sports for Sirene D’Ainey is likely to be much shorter on the day.
SIRENE D’AINEY 11/1
David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle (Cheltenham Festival)