Champion Irish jumps trainer, Willie Mullins, has raised the possibility of his brilliant mare, Quevega, running twice at the Cheltenham Festival in March, as speculation remains rife that she could switch from the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle to the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, now that the mighty Big Buck’s has been ruled out of contention through injury.
Quevega has made the ‘David Nicholson’ all her own, winning the two-and-a-half mile Grade 2 mares contest for the last four years in succession and stands on the verge of equalling the record set by the mighty Golden Miller back in the 1930’s, winner of five successive Gold Cups.
No horse since Golden Miller has won the same race five times at the Cheltenham Festival, but Mullins’ outstanding mare is currently an even money shot in the bet365 racing betting to do just that.
There had been absolutely no doubt that the eight-year-old would bid to equal the record until news broke recently that the four-time World Hurdle winner, Big Buck’s (unbeaten in his last 18 starts), has sustained a tendon injury in training and will not be ready in time to defend his crown and himself bid to equal Golden Miller’s feat.
Bookmakers reacted quickly to the absence of Paul Nicholls’ superstar from the showcase staying hurdle and installed Quevega as the new 5/1 ante-post favourite in the horse racing betting offers.
However, Mullins has made it clear that winning the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle remains his number one priority, although he did not completely rule out the possibility that the daughter of Robin Des Champs might attempt to double up and tackle the World Hurdle on the Thursday of the fixture, just two days after her principal target. No final decision on attempting the double will be made until nearer the Cheltenham Festival itself in mid-March.
If previous trends are anything to go by, then we will not be seeing Quevega until that fixture, after which, if all goes well, she will surely bid to continue her winning sequence at the Punchestown Festival in May, where she has won the Grade 1 Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle for each of the last three seasons.
The winner of 13 of her 20 career starts, the French-bred Quevega has not tasted defeat since finishing unplaced at Auteuil in May 2009, and has strung together a superb series of six straight wins in top company to establish herself as indisputably the best of her sex.