Willie Mullins believes Quevega is stronger than ever as she bids for a hat-trick in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.
Just as she did 12 months ago, the seven-year-old arrives at Prestbury Park without a run this season.
She was last seen beating the boys in the World Series Hurdle at Punchestown last April and Mullins is very pleased with her current condition.
“I think she’s stronger this year but whether that’s a plus or not remains to be seen,” said Mullins.
“I’m not really concerned about the lack of a recent run. We got her there last year without one and we’re happy enough with where she is.”
Ruby Walsh will be the man in the saddle again and he too expects his mount to be tough to beat.
“She hasn’t run since Punchestown but that was the same the year before,” the jockey told Racing UK.
“She’s working well at home and Willie will have her spot on for the day. She’ll be hard to beat.
“She’s a mare with a lot of ability and it will suit me if she comes out of the dark in front on Tuesday evening.
“She ran in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle after she’d won it the first year and wasn’t beaten that far by Solwhit and Punjabi and last year she won the Grade One three-miler.
“She’s a real hurdler, she flicks the top bar all the way and she’ll never over jump, she’s rapid and keeps you awake.”
One of Quevega’s 13 challengers is the Donald McCain-trained Alegralil.
Although disappointing on her latest start at Sandown, her trainer would not be surprised to see her run well.
“Things haven’t gone to plan with her really. We waited for Sandown last time and the ground went heavy and I shouldn’t have run her,” said McCain.
“We’d waited a long time for that and then she was odds-on at Doncaster and that meeting was abandoned, so we decided to sit tight and come straight here.
“She’s working well and she’s always been a talented filly, so we’ll see.
“Quevega is obviously going to be hard to beat but I think the rest are much of a muchness and on her day, this is a decent filly.
“If she jumps well and things go right, I’d like to think she could run into the money.”