Belfast Telegraph

Melody can hit key note

Robert Fenton

Quevega has been the Cheltenham queen for five years in a row and a sixth win in the Mares Hurdle will see her set a new record of six successive Festival victories.

She is a lady of rare quality but has to be kept to two races a year, here and at Punchestown. There is little to match her in this event but a price of 4/6 reflects that and that won't attract many punters.

Quevega had to pull out all the stops to win last year, looking in a hopeless position turning for home but producing the goods on the hill to catch Sirene D'Ainay.

The quality of opposition makes her difficult to oppose but if there is anything to lower her colours, it might just be the other Willie Mullins runner – Glens Melody, who is worth an each-way wager at 10/1.

Mullins has the favourite for the Arkle in Champagne Fever, winner of last year's Supreme Novice Hurdle and the Champion Bumper king in 2012. However, his jumping can leave a bit to be desired and the one that has more appeal is former Champion Hurdle winner and last year's runner-up Rock On Ruby.

Handled by Harry Fry, he too lacks experience over the bigger obstacles, but there's no doubting his speed and love of decent ground.

If he gets into a jumping rhythm early on, then his class can shine through under Noel Fehily.

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