Qevega has been an absolute star for me, winning numerous races, including the mares’ hurdle at Cheltenham for the last four years.
But I have great respect for Voler La Vedette and believe she is just a different horse this season and better than she has ever been.
Of course I hope Quevega will win and am not about to desert her now. I never ride her at home and haven’t been aboard since Cheltenham.
But I rode in a gallop with her at Willie Mullins’ on Tuesday morning. She seemed in great shape and to have come out of that ‘prep’ run at Cheltenham in terrific order.
Twice these two have met and Quevega has come out on top on both occasions. I have no doubt, however, it is not as simple as that.
Form is form and Voler La Vedette’s efforts this season bear the closest inspection. For instance when Quevega won this race a year ago, she beat Mourad by a length and a quarter.
The simple facts are that Voler La Vedette has been kicking Mourad out of the way this campaign.
And then, of course, Colm Murphy’s mare went to Cheltenham and took on Big Buck’s. She finished second and the only word I can use to describe that effort is outstanding.
It has the makings then of some buckle and I have to believe we will come out on the right side.
I begin my day on the frustrating Turban in the opening winners’ of one hurdle. He finished last of 11 at Fairyhouse, but, and I’m not saying this because he is owned by a Cork man, I have not given up on him.
I was actually very happy with Turban at Fairyhouse, until he went and blundered badly at the fourth last.
Then horses got around him and he backed off the next and was soon beaten. Some day he will return to what he was earlier in the season and deliver. It might as well be today as any other day.
I’m fancying Catleen each-way in the fiercely competitive 25-runner three mile handicap hurdle.
She was a good fifth behind Vast Consumption, which I rode, at Fairyhouse, when two miles was all too short.
Catleen will love the trip and handle the ground and I’ll bet will at least beat a lot more than beats her!
I end on Blackstairmountain in the Grade 1 novice chase but it is very hard to make a case for him. He is going to struggle on the ground and this looks to be a match between First Lieutenant and Menorah.
I know plenty will feel that two miles is too short for First Lieutenant, but I do not subscribe to that theory at all.
I’m of the opinion that top-class horses can win at just about any distance and if he is what Davy Russell and Mouse Morris think, the real deal, then First Lieutenant can overcome such a potential drawback.
Menorah’s jumping has left a lot to be desired, but it was much better when he won well at Aintree. Mind you my lad in that contest, Al Ferof, just didn’t turn up.
This is going to be a real slog and First Lieutenant’s proven stamina can be the decisive factor and I’m in his camp.
I thought Last d’Albain ran a cracker at Fairyhouse, when second to Lucky William, and I would love to have ridden him in the two mile handicap chase.
And in the La Touché Cup, I fancy Tony Martin’s Saddlers Storm. The ground won’t be ideal, but he has a bit of class and travelled well for a long way in the Irish National at Fairyhouse.