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Boston Bob set to glitter in gold

By Richard Forristal

Boston Bob will go for next year's Cheltenham Festival showpiece following victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup.

Boston Bob will be among the favourites for the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March after completing a transition to a three-mile leader by claiming a second consecutive major Grade One after victory in the Melling Chase at Aintree earlier this month.

Trainer Willie Mullins said: "Boston Bob is just improving. I thought he'd been unlucky twice at Cheltenham (notably when falling in last year's RSA) but he's got his reward for what he shows me at home.

"I was disappointed with On His Own, who needed a bit of company and his jumping went to pieces.

"I'm thinking of the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris for On His Own and I think we'll bring Boston Bob back next season and aim him for the (Cheltenham) Gold Cup. He has turned the corner now."

Jockey Ruby Walsh said: "I have to thank Willie. I never thought I'd be siding with On His Own over Boston Bob, but I rode them both the other morning and I was definitely leaning On His Own's way.

"On Monday morning I was talking to Willie and he fairly convinced me to ride this lad, so thanks to him.

"He ducked and I nearly fell off him. He was a bit deliberate at the second-last and wasn't great at the last. He hung left, quickened up and won."

Referring to the Gold Cup, when On His Own was beaten a short head but was denied a clear run by the successful Lord Windermere, Walsh said: "They were so unlucky at Cheltenham, but that's racing.

"The way (owners) Graham and Andrea Wylie accepted defeat was admirable in any sort of sport."

Ulster jockey Jody McGarvey was triumphant in the opener on board Master Oscar.

The topic of whether or not Quevega is on the verge of being packed off to the breeding shed has been a point of debate all week, but Mullins' great mare would add to her glorious legacy either way were she to claim another Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at the Festival today.

She will arrive at Punchestown today seeking to become the first horse to claim the same Grade One at the Kildare festival five times, having already enhanced her place in the history books by securing her sixth Cheltenham victory in brilliantly dramatic fashion.

The champion trainer has not been drawn on her future beyond this bid to stretch her incredible unbeaten run that stretches back four years to a perfect 10.

Quevega's stablemate Glens Melody – owned and bred in Newry by Fiona McStay – is again among the opposition to the Walsh-ridden 10-year-old.

However, her most potent dangers come from abroad, particularly At Fisher's Cross – ridden by Ulster great Tony McCoy – Fingal Bay and Knockara Beau.

But Fingal Bay has the quality and courage to slay Quevega if he keeps progressing.

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