- Horse Racing
Quevega saunters to World win
The incomparable Quevega bagged her fourth World Series Hurdle at Punchestown, but the race lost much of its lustre by the late withdrawal of favourite Solwhit.
Willie Mullins' wondermare had done the Cheltenham-Punchestown double for the past three years. She was expected to face stiff opposition from World Hurdle winner Solwhit - who was favoured in the market - but Davy Russell withdrew Solwhit at the start of the race with the horse bleeding from the nose.
With Solwhit out of the way it was expected to be plain sailing and that proved to be the case as jockey Ruby Walsh never had to move a muscle.
Walsh allowed Quevega to sit in fourth for much of the race and it was not until turning out of the back straight that he allowed his mount to take closer order.
Reve De Sivola was in front turning in, but Darly Jacob was throwing the kitchen sink at his mount. If he had glanced over his left shoulder he would have seen Walsh oozing confidence on Quevega.
A slight shake of the reins from Walsh was the signal for Quevega to move to the front. She measured the last with her typical accuracy and she cruised past the stands, to the delight of a packed crowd.
"It was heavy enough for her, but she is a brilliant little mare," Walsh told At The Races. "She is well placed and trained and has a great attitude.
"She is brilliant. She is accurate in her jumping, travels and is honest. She is the real deal.
"Solwhit did not run but you can only beat what is in front of you."
Quevega's last defeat came in 2009 and she may well pitch up at Cheltenham next year bidding for a sixth win in the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle.
Walsh and Mullins went on to make it a Grade One double as Arvika Ligeonniere bounced back from a couple of lacklustee efforts with an effortless success in the Ryanair Novice Chase.
The jockey-trainer also scored on the card with Twinlight in the Bibby Financial Services Handicap Chase and Upsie in the Orchid Transport Mares Novice Hurdle.
And capping a stellar day for the trainer, Mullins took the concluding bumper with Turnandgo to bring up a 624-1 five-timer .