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Quevega Installed New Ante-Post Favourite for World Hurdle

Quevega, the undisputed queen of the Cheltenham Festival having landed the Grade 2 David Nicholson Mares Hurdle for the last four renewals, has been installed the new-ante-post favourite for the Grade 1 Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the big meeting following the shock news of the injury that rules defending champion Big Buck’s out of the reckoning.

© Caroline Norris


For many people Big Buck’s and Quevega had already been inked in as their two bankers of the Cheltenham Festival, Quevega expected to continue her dominance of the two-and-a-half mile ‘David Nicholson’ and complete a nap hand of wins in the race, while Big Buck’s was odds-on to do the same in the World Hurdle, the race he has made his own with four straight wins and in which there appeared few, if any serious challengers.

But following the revelation that the Paul Nicholls-trained champion has sustained a tendon injury that is likely to keep him out of action for around a year, speculation is rife that Quevega may now switch targets and bid to land the main staying hurdles event of the year now that such a huge obstacle has been removed from her path.

Bookmakers have installed the Willie Mullins-trained star the new 5/1 ante-post favourite in a horse racing betting market that has been well and truly blasted wide apart by the absence of the forecast odds-on shot. Unbeaten at Cheltenham and undefeated for three-and-a-half years since May 2009, as well as making the David Nicholson Hurdle all her own, the daughter of Robin Des Champs has won the last three renewals of the World Series Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in her native Ireland and appears to be every bit as good now as she was a few seasons ago.

Mullins hasn’t yet made any statement about any revised Cheltenham Festival target for his charge, but it has been well documented that the champion Irish trainer has wanted to steer clear of Big Buck’s and as a consequence the World Hurdle had never really been on the agenda. Now, all that could change.

Other leading contenders for the staying hurdles crown include the very classy Oscar Whisky (7/1), and Ireland’s Ascot Gold Cup hero Rite of Passage (8/1). Donald McCain’s Peddler’s Cross, runner-up to Hurricane Fly in the 2011 Champion Hurdle, is also thought likely to target the big race now and is currently offered at a tempting 10/1, along with last year’s brave runner-up to Big Buck’s, Voler La Vedette.
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