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Mullins is positive that Quevega can challenge for spot in history books

Martin Robson

Willie Mullins is confident Quevega has arrived at Cheltenham as good as ever ahead of her bid for an historic sixth consecutive victory in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle today.

The incredible 10-year-old joined five-times Gold Cup hero Golden Miller as the Festival's joint highest-winning horse when overcoming adversity to raise the roof at Prestbury Park last year, having almost come down when hampered by another horse running down the hill.

As she has done for the last four years, Quevega is making her first appearance of the season.

Ireland's champion trainer, who also saddles Glens Melody in the race, admits getting his wonder-mare to her peak without the aid of a prep run is a task he relishes.

Mullins said: "Quevega looks good, as does Glens Melody, and they both appear to have travelled over well.

"She (Quevega) was well ahead of schedule this year, so much so I was contemplating giving her a run at Punchestown.

"My owners don't want to breed from her, they want to race.

"As a trainer I find it as personally satisfying as anything to produce a horse to go back there year after year.

"When they have ability, you mind that ability and pick the races."

Glens Melody has won successive Listed prizes in testing conditions at Warwick, but Mullins feels ground conditions could be detrimental to her chance.

He said: "Glens Melody has been to England three times this season and has won twice.

"She's in good form, but the drying ground would be against her."

Ruby Walsh, who has ridden Quevega to each of her Festival triumphs, said: "She's in really good form and even just to get to Cheltenham six years in a row is unbelievable.

"I'd say she's in good nick."

Highland Retreat gave Harry Fry his first winner and the young trainer admits he would thrilled if she can pick up minor honours behind Quevega.

Fry said: "She has done nothing but improve. We're all trying to beat one mare, she can't keep on winning, but if we finished second to a legend like her, we'd be over the moon.

"She has come a long way since being my first winner, and has improved 20lb this year alone. It's a drop in trip but there'll be a strong pace."

Meanwhile, Fry could not be happier as Rock On Ruby attempts to continue his excellent Festival record in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy.

The seven-year-old has finished in the first two in all his three previous visits, winning the Champion Hurdle on this day in 2012 and finishing runner-up 12 months ago, as well as going down by a short head in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle in 2011.

Critics will point to the fact Rock On Ruby has only had the two runs over fences, winning both, but that was due to the trainer avoiding the incessant heavy ground during the winter.

With conditions drying out just at the right time, Fry goes to Prestbury Park full of confidence.

"We couldn't have wished for a better run-up on the weather front to Rock On Ruby going in the Arkle on Tuesday," the Seaborough handler said.

"It's been fantastic with all this warm weather. Drying ground is a huge positive for him and we're really excited about his chances."

Belfast Telegraph


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