However vexed they must have been to see Solwhit withdrawn at the start, it cannot have taken his connections long to admit a secret relief at Punchestown. For it is hard to imagine even such an accomplished horse finding reserves to exhaust the metronomic brilliance of Quevega. The great mare, who registered her fifth Cheltenham Festival success last month, followed up for a fourth time in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle – and has seldom looked better.
If Solwhit's untimely nosebleed robbed the crowd of the anticipated showdown, Quevega spared them any sense of anticlimax. Jumping slickly throughout under Ruby Walsh, she coasted alongside Reve De Sivola on the home turn and eased clear on the bridle. "The older she gets, the better she travels," Walsh said. "She's an incredible mare."
Willie Mullins, her trainer, was thrilled by the energy with which she attacked the final hurdle. "She had looked very big before Cheltenham, almost like a mare in foal, but did a bit of work last Saturday and it was the first time [this season] she's looked race-fit," he said. "And she needed to be to get three miles in that ground. Now she has got stronger, she can handle it. But she has more speed than people gave her credit for. I always enter her in the two-mile races, just in case anything happened to Hurricane Fly." As it was, Mullins could report the champion in "great order" for his appointment on today's card.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Aryal (3.05 Doncaster) Form has taken off in blinkers, with a dominant performance typical of one from his stable last week.
Bedloe's Island (5.15 Doncaster) Has a good record fresh.
One to watch
Easy Terms (Edwin Tuer) Seems to be coming to hand, judging from the way he kept on at Thirsk last weekend.
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