Wonder mare Quevega hits rivals for six

Jockey Ruby Walsh was wreathed in smiles following Quevega’s record-breaking sixth victory in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The 8/11 favourite had to work hard to collar stablemate and runner-up Glens Melody  but she dug deep and powered up the hill to record a three quarter length victory with L’Unique a further three quarters of a length back in third.

Quevega’s success now means that Walsh has ridden 40 Cheltenham Festival victories  which has consolidated his position as the winning-most jockey at The Festival.

Walsh was delighted to have made history with the mare, who may come back to The Festival again next year for another crack at the race she has made her own.

“She’s a great little mare,” said Walsh. “That’s the quickest ground that she has run on and I was fairly panicking off the bend but she was good. When you think about, to come back here six times and do it – she’s 10 years of age but she has everything.

“It’s some performance by Willie to keep bringing her back and bringing her back – minding her and nursing her. It’s nice to be part of history and say who won the most races – Quevega – and I can say that I rode her.

“I thought going to the last that I would win. Paul was quicker at the last than I was but I knew halfway up in the run-in that I was going to get there.”

Quevega is now the winning-most horse ever at The Festival.

The winning trainer said: “She’s just something else and the mare did the talking today

“She’s got stamina, speed and everything, She’s just class – what more can I say? I’m so pleased for her and she has her own place in history now. To get a horse here for six years in a row is enough.

“The breeder told me when she was five that she would get better with age and that her mother wasn’t at her best until she was nine. We might be greedy to try number seven next year, we’ll go home and have a drink and a think.

“Veterinary advice was telling us to put her to stud and I sent her up to Ned Gowing and said that I wanted her back as a race mare – we are not in the breeding game – and he told me what to do. He treated her and told me the way to train her, so a lot of this achievement is down to him. He put her right for me the first year and we just follow the same procedure every year.

“The other mare (runner-up Glens Melody) ran a fantastic race and flattened the second last. I am delighted for Glens Melody and connections but I would never have been as disappointed at having a winner at Cheltenham if she had beaten Quevega. It was fantastic the way she turned it around over the last 200 yards. She put down her head and is so brave – she keeps pulling it out. She is never beaten.

“It’s way up there with all of my Festival winners. I love Quevega and that was one of our missions coming here – trying to get Hurricane Fly across the line didn’t work – but to get her there, I am happy now for the week. “

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