World domination for Quevega

RUBY WALSH pulled rank on his baby sister, Katie, at Punchestown last night when brilliant mare Quevega beat Mourad in the Grade 1 ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle.

“I knew she’d (Katie) be coming”, said Walsh, with a glint in his eye, after Quevega had survived a near-disastrous blunder at the final flight.

Davy Russell kicked hard on Carlito Brigante off the final bend, but Quevega was cruising in behind and it was only a question of when Walsh said go.

Quevega cantered ahead going to the final flight, as Walsh stole a quick glance behind. What he saw was Katie and Mourad in full flow.

A decent leap at the obstacle was sure to seal the deal, but Quevega stepped right into the hurdle and, at least for a split second, the issue appeared to be in the melting pot.

But Quevega is special, she picked up in flash and was always holding her rival, the verdict a length and a quarter.

“She is the best mare I have ever ridden”, reported Walsh. “It was a muddling race and she had loads left.”

Willie Mullins, responsible for the first two, commented: “What can I say, she must be a machine.

“I don’t know where she got the leg from. She is so athletic and nine out of ten horses would have fallen.

“I am absolutely delighted and it seems as if Mourad has improved again. I’m not going to take on Big Buck’s (with Quevega).

“I am thinking the French Champion Hurdle might be next for Quevega and will have to talk to the boys (Hammer And Trowel Syndicate, owners).

“It will be the same again next season, I cannot see the point in doing anything differently.”

That means the focus of attention for Quevega will very much be on a fourth success in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The other Grade 1 on the card, the Ryanair Novice Chase, saw Cheltenham Arkle winner, Philip Hobbs’ Captain Chris, dig deep to resist the persistent challenge of Realt Dubh.

The winner had a few scary moments, jumping-wise, but threw mighty leaps at the final two fences. They were to prove vital and he was too strong for Realt Dubh in the closing stages.

Said Hobbs: “He is effective at two miles, but wants further. Next season we will, maybe, start him off in the Amlin Chase at Ascot, over two miles and three, or else go for the Haldon Gold Cup over two and a quarter at Exeter.

“Richard (Johnson) is adamant he needs good ground, but is a big horse and wouldn’t want it firm either.

“We are half-thinking about the King George (Kempton). He is not a horse for the depths of winter and we don’t know if he will get three miles.”

Boylesports gave Captain Chris a quote of 8-1 for the King George.

Thomond O’Mara’s Tornedo Shay stepped well up on anything he had done this season when easily taking the Aon Hurdle.

The winner of three bumpers has struggled throug the campaign, but looked far more potent here.

Philip Enright allowed him an inch of rein heading to the home turn and Tornedo Shay eased clear to win unextended by four lengths, despite getting in tight to the last.

Said O’Mara: “Two and a half miles made all of the difference. That horse was always there, but he has been held back by his jumping.

“He will run through the summer on the flat and stay hurdling next season.”

Willie Mullins, on the mark with Quevega, completed a double with Kerb Appeal in the Naas Court Hotel Handicap Hurdle.

Vics Canvas was bombing along in the lead when slipping to the ground before the home turn, Kerb Appeal was left in front and made the rest.

“He will go novice chasing now and will run through the summer, as long as there is some nice ground”, said Mullins.

Dr Whizz, who was travelling strongly when falling three out at Gowran Park previously, made no mistake under Tony McCoy in the Kildare Post Handicap Chase.

McCoy powered him ahead coming away from two out and Dr Whizz was soon in control to score with lots in hand.

Trainer, Tom Mullins, said: “I’m delighted, he was very well in himself. I’ve no major plans, he will probably go for another handicap, although he did win by nine lengths!”

The gruelling 4 miles and a furlong of the La Touché Cup produced a thrilling finish, with just a short head separating Another Jewel and Let The Show Begin.

The latter made a brave attempt from the front and, when the winner slipped heading to the second last, they were tactics which looked like succeeding.

But John Cullen rallied Another Jewel in tremendous style and his willing partner did the rest.

Jessica Harrington struck for the first time this week when the impressive Burn And Turn, partnered by her daughter, Kate, lengthened clear off the last bend to take the Bumper with any amount in hand.

- The attendance was almost the same as last year at 15,527, compared to 15,512.

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